Nonprofits should utilize alternatives to costly state UI tax pools

March 10, 2014

Nonprofits should utilize alternatives to costly state UI tax pools

The volatile state of unemployment insurance in the U.S. is having a heavy impact on employers as well. While widespread unemployment has pushed many workers out of their jobs and into the unemployment office, the system that provides the benefits has become overburdened. State funds for many unemployment agencies dried up early on in the recession due to high demand.

To continue paying claims, many states had to take loans from the federal government. After two years, the loans must be paid pack in full, with interest, or the federal government reduces tax credits to employers to hasten the loan repayment. This means many employers could see an increase in UI costs without a change in unemployment at their own organization.

According to the website News-Leader, Missouri owes over $300 million to the federal government, meaning employers in the state would need to be taxed that much to pay back the loan. Tax credits will continue to decrease each year in the state until the loan is entirely repaid. Even after the loan is repaid, the state will also need to replenish the fund for existing unemployment claims.

The problem and solution for nonprofits
Nonprofits with tight budgets often find it difficult to meet rising cost responsibilities. The unpredictability of future unemployment insurance expenditures are bad news for organizations that may have already found themselves in a tight spot. While nonprofits are exempt from paying federal UI taxes, the state taxes are where there the employer credit disappears so their costs rise just like those of traditional employers.

However, one advantage offered to nonprofits is the ability to opt out of unemployment insurance tax pools and become a self-reimbursing employer. Under this designation, nonprofit employers are responsible only for the actual cost of claims submitted by former employees. Simply put, a nonprofit with no claims would have no costs related to state UI.

Enrolling in an unemployment savings program
There are risks for nonprofits, though. Should they see a sudden increase in claims they will find themselves responsible for a large financial obligation. Without the funding provided by the state tax pool, the cost could be devastating.

The solution is a program that provides a fixed annual cost that is lower than the tax rate and still provides security against an increase in claims. Unlike state tax payments, contributions to an Unemployment savings program, such as that offered by First Nonprofit Companies, can be made each quarter. This allows for a smaller, more predictable payment which is easier to budget for.

In state tax pools, contributions are made every year regardless of UI claims, so nonprofits are often paying to cover the costs of other businesses. In a savings program, there is no shared risk and the annual fee is based on the nonprofit's own risk profile. Furthermore, the account can be carried on an organization's books as an asset and is returned should they leave the program.


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Working with Marshal Whittey at First Nonprofit has been a great experience. He handles our request as a priority and goes above and beyond to resolve any issues we have in a timely manner. Marshall follows through to the end and ensures our needs are met. He has been a great resource for LSC and our “go to” for any tax questions we may have. With LSC transitioning several facilities into one federal tax identification number, First Nonprofit was able to assist and provide guidance with best practices resolving claims to each entity. Additionally First Nonprofit provided knowledge (information materials) and one on one training to HRS group with best practices to handle claims state adjudicated, fraudulent claims, and appeals. And processing information in the First Nonprofit [unemployment claims] system allows for timely information can be collected.

Lutheran Services Carolinas, Salisbury, NC

My experience with FNP has been wonderful. Unemployment in general is quite confusing and FNP has simplified the process for us. Everyone we have reached out to or worked with has been very helpful and follows up to be sure we understand the information. I am so happy we made the switch to FNP!

Stone Valley Community Charter School, Huntingdon, PA

First Nonprofit smoothed the unemployment perils for our organization during Covid. Without the ability to cap our UI exposure, we would not have been able to weather the storm. The program worked perfectly and we have come out of the pandemic ready to forge on. Thanks FNP!

Jewish Silicon Valley, Los Gatos, CA

My experience with the FNP has been fantastic. The idea of setting funds aside for the unemployment tax liability is a bedrock for nonprofit organizations like mine, namely ASHBA; what is even more advantageous is having the FNP as a custodian of those funds. 100% recommended!

American Saddlebred Horse & Breeders Association, Inc., Lexington, KY

I would like to comment on my experience with FNP….to date our District has saved $1,000’s of dollars by being enrolled in the First Nonprofit program. My only regret is that we did not know about this method of paying unemployment tax years ago….as I had figured about five years

ago, had we enrolled 15-20 years ago, we could have saved our small school district upwards of $500,000 in payments to IDES. Also we would have had a pretty hefty sum of money in our Reserve Account. Thankfully I attended a workshop hosted by First Nonprofit back in 2015 which got the ball rolling!

Beardstown Community Unit School District 15, Beardstown, IL

I have worked with the First Non-Profit Team for many years, and I appreciate the quick response and care that Cecilia and the team provides anytime I have questions. While there are other providers that may provide like services, First Nonprofit will always be my first choice! I appreciate you!

Innovative Services, Inc., Green Bay, WI

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

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