Employers Can File Unemployment
By Marie L. Monyak
February 25, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - Bruce L. Garrison, a field tax auditor from
the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Employment
Security Division, was the speaker at this week's Greater Ketchikan
Chamber of Commerce luncheon. Garrison was present to discuss
on-line filing, rates, options and the background of the Unemployment
Bruce L. Garrison,
a field tax auditor from the Department of Labor and Workforce
Development, Employment Security Division
Photograph by Marie L. Monyak
"We have three tax offices in the State, in Anchorage, Fairbanks
and Juneau with two smaller offices in Kenai and Wasilla. We
also run the UI call center from Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau.
We have a job service that provides job training and we even
have a job fair coming up, here in Ketchikan, on March 10th,"
He continued, "I work out of the Juneau field tax office
where we have three auditors and I come to Ketchikan a couple
times a year. I'm always available to help with any questions,
you can call for any reason."
Garrison related to the audience that unemployment insurance
came about in 1933 because of the Great Depression and two years
later in 1935, the Social Security Act was passed.
He further explained, "Unemployment Insurance is a trust
fund based on an insurance plan. We keep a trust fund large enough
to pay one year's unemployment, as the fund shrinks, rates go
up and as the fund increases, rates go down. We have to set premiums
high enough to cover the trust fund."
"What happens," Garrison said, "is that you [the
employer] file your quarterly taxes to SUTA (State Unemployment
Tax Act), you pay anywhere from 1 to 3% that goes into a fund
to pay unemployment."
Garrison presented everyone in the audience with a handout that
listed some interesting facts and figures regarding unemployment
- Total Alaskan labor workforce
- $193.61 was the average weekly
amount paid out to claimants.
- The total number of people
receiving a UI payment for at least one week is 53,607.
- The average duration of UI
for a claimant is 14.56 weeks.
"In Alaska, employees
pay SUTA also, and a portion pays for training. Most states don't
tax the employee," Garrison said "We are only one of
three states where the employee pays any portion of unemployment."
Garrison's next topic was the on-line filing system designed
for employers to utilize in the filing of their quarterly taxes.
"We are really trying to encourage employers to file on-line.
"I've spent the last four years working in a dark room with
no windows, building a tax system and one of the outcomes of
that is an on-line filing system that I created," Garrison
stated "There are roughly 17,000 employers and most of those
have 10 employees or less." Garrison related statistics
to the group, "Every quarter we get about 17,000 reports
filed, we do 70,000 contribution reports a year and it's easier
on-line and more accurate. We collected about $156 million from
employers in the State of Alaska last year."
"The reason for filing on-line is that we do the math for
the tax and wage base for you, eliminating errors. We gave back
a million dollars last year to employers that overpaid,"
Garrison said. The web link for the State of Alaska on-line filing
was in the handout that Garrison circulated earlier. He proudly
stated that there is an on-line demo explaining how to file on-line.
"I've been auditing Ketchikan for 17 years," Garrison
said. "When we audit, we audit a calendar year. We verify
that you're reporting everyone correctly and it only takes about
two to three hours. We did 350 to 400 audits last year out of
Garrison made it very clear that he is always available to assist
employers with any questions and how important it is for employers
to file every quarter. "If you don't file, we don't know
who worked for you and we can't pay unemployment. The other thing
is when it comes to rate season, you'll end up owing us money.
"If you hide from us, we have a lot of power..I hate to
do that. We do blanket seizures, it's one of the last things
we do," Garrison continued. "We will work with businesses.
The labor and workforce goal is to have job ready employees available
in the market for employers when they need them. We really do
work with you."
Next week's guest speaker will be Karen Eakes from Patchworks,
preceded by a brief "teaser" from First City Players'
upcoming performance of CHAPS.
On the Web:
Marie L. Monyak is
a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
The on-line filing system and
instructional demo can be found at http://www.labor.state.ak.us/estax/home.htm
A freelance writer is an uncommitted independent writer
who produces and sells articles to a publisher such as SitNews.
Contact Marie at mlmx1[at]hotmail.com
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