Not all state UI tax options are equal

October 16, 2013

Not all state UI tax options are equal

Nonprofits are not exempt from paying state unemployment insurance taxes, but  they do have alternative funding options, such as self-insuring or employing full or partially insured alternatives. Self-insuring removes nonprofits from unpredictable SUI tax pools, which have seen tax rates and taxable wage bases grow year after year due to high federal loan debt.

As states struggle to pay back UI debt owed to the federal government, UI tax credits for employers grow smaller each year. Nonprofits that opt out of SUI tax pools only need to reimburse the state for the actual number of claims paid to former employees. SUI tax rates rise regardless of individual employer habits. Many employers pay almost double in taxes the amount that is actually paid out to former employees as UI benefits, making self-insuring an alluring concept. With some states liable for debts of over a billion dollars, self-insuring or insured alternatives would appear to be best practice for most nonprofits.

However, self-insuring creates avoidable unprotected liabilities and can place pressure on an organization's annual fixed revenue. Nonprofits can also join unemployment trusts to mitigate some of the risk of self-insuring, but in many cases such a choice will take them right back to square one. UI group trusts often face many of the same funding challenges as state UI Trust Fund pools.

Drawbacks to group trusts

  • Group trusts are able to recoup excessive benefit costs, requiring low-turnover nonprofit agencies to bear some of the costs associated with the higher benefit payouts of other nonprofits. Just like in state pools, some nonprofits would be paying more than the their actual UI claim costs.
  • The objective of most trusts is to spread the costs of unemployment beyond high-turnover nonprofit agencies.

Private insurance options

  • Membership in private insurance is voluntary, and the risk is separable and transparent.
  • Modifications to UI contributions are related to individual member history and future expectations.
  • Nonprofits elect full, partial or modified coverage based on risk tolerance, or private group plans structured as a LLC and the only unfunded liabilities are those chosen by the nonprofit.

Content presented by First Nonprofit Companies, the leading provider of a full-range of state unemployment insurance alternatives for 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers.


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Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL

It has been our sincere pleasure to maintain a strong, vibrant business partnership with First Nonprofit. We greatly admire their strong industry knowledge, technical expertise, constant professionalism, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. They are always extremely responsive, personable and provide us with the necessary guidance and recommendations on a numerous variety of employment scenarios.

Thresholds, Chicago, IL

NYCON members who use First Nonprofit’s programs enjoy enduring savings and improved efficiency. Our association knows that success, because from the beginning, we achieved the same great benefits. Great savings, seamless technology, and responsive service. NYCON highly recommends First Nonprofit’s remarkable unemployment solutions.

New York Council of Nonprofits, Albany, NY

Visually Impaired Preschool Services has been a client of First Non-Profit since it was first offered as a benefit of VisionServe Alliance. We completed a thorough evaluation of cash savings to our agency before taking advantage of this wonderful benefit and it has been a very wise decision. Our experience with the processes from accounting to claims have been professional, expeditious and easy.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

Luckily for us, our interactions regarding any issues with staffing has been very minimal! I can say that all other interactions with regards to billing, 941 reporting, etc. have been extremely pleasant, accommodating and easy to work with. Kim Ghanayem is always prompt, professional and friendly. Thank you so much!

Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ

First Nonprofit has been easy to work with and makes the administrative process easier and smoother. We enjoy working with you.

Visually Impaired Preschool Services, Louisville, KY

The Ensight Skills Center has enjoyed working with First Nonprofit for several years. We are enrolled in their Unemployment Savings Program and although we have not required a lot of intervention, there have been a few times. I know others have dealt with the same problem of unemployment fraud over the last year and in our case, a call to First Nonprofit (they actually answer their phones) cleared up the issue. They also sent us a letter to send to all our employees telling them what they needed to do to prevent this in the future and protect themselves. What a relief! Over the years if I have questions or concerns, they are happy to listen, advise and help if they can. Another BIG advantage of using First Nonprofit is that all the money that is paid into the Unemployment Savings Program lives on my balance sheet as an asset. The money continues to be Ensight’s not the governments. First Nonprofit has certainly given me peace of mind.

Ensight Skills Center, Inc, Fort Collins, CO