Employer’s Guide to State-by-State Annual SUI Tax Rates

Gusto Editors

If you have employees, your tax responsibilities as a business owner include paying state unemployment tax (known as either SUI or SUTA) and federal unemployment tax (known as FUTA). But how much do you have to pay? Here’s everything you need to know, including:

  • the difference between state and federal unemployment taxes, 
  • your state’s annual SUTA rate, 
  • and how to calculate your states annual SUTA rate. 

What is state unemployment tax?

State unemployment tax (SUTA), also known state unemployment insurance (SUI), is an employer-funded tax that gives short-term benefits to employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. SUI is one part of the payroll taxes you withhold from employees’ paychecks. 

When employees file for unemployment because they’ve been laid off, they may receive a wage replacement from their state as part of their unemployment benefits. This wage replacement is funded by employers who pay the SUI tax. Keep in mind that employees who quit their jobs or get fired for cause (as opposed to being laid off) aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits from the state. 

The SUI tax is a percentage of your employees’ wages, and you pay it to the state where the work takes place. That means you pay SUI tax to the state your business is located in if your employees also work there. However, if you have remote employees who work in different states, you pay SUI tax to each state in which your employees work in. 

What is the SUI tax rate?

Every state has a different annual SUI tax rate, a different tax rate range, and a different wage base for unemployment tax. The wage base means you only contribute unemployment tax until the employee earns above that specific amount. For example, if the wage base is $10,000, but your employee earns $40,000 a year, you’ll only pay SUI taxes on that first $10,000. 

The tax rate changes annually for each state. The particular SUI rate you pay also depends on certain individual factors, like your business’s industry, your experience in business, and the number of former employees you have, who filed for and received unemployment benefits. If you have more employees who file for unemployment benefits your SUI tax rate could be higher. 

To keep your SUI tax rate as low as it can possibly be, it’s important to maintain records of your employment and employees’ performances and behaviors. This means documenting any misconduct that leads to firing, measuring employees’ job performance, and conducting regular performance reviews. 

What is FUTA?

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) works in conjunction with state programs to give certain workers unemployment compensation. Most employers pay both federal and state unemployment taxes. 

The IRS has three tests used to determine whether or not you have to pay FUTA tax: a general test, a household employers test, and an agricultural employers test. With the general tax, you have to pay FUTA tax on the wages you pay employees who aren’t household or agricultural employees if either one of the following conditions applies:

  • You paid wages of $1,500 or more to employees in any calendar quarter during 2021 or 2022.
  • You had one or more employees for at least some part of a day in any 20 or more different weeks in 2021, or 20 or more different weeks in 2022. This includes all full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. 

In that case, you would file Form 940, the Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return. The FUTA tax rate is 6 percent, and it applies to the first $7,000 you pay employees as wages during the year. 

However, if you paid state unemployment taxes in full and on time (by the due date of Form 940), you could receive a tax credit of up to 5.4% of FUTA taxable wages when you file Form 940. If you get the full credit, your FUTA tax rate drops to 0.6%. The only exception is if your state is a credit reduction state, which means your state has taken loans from the federal government to cover its unemployment benefits—but hasn’t repaid the loans on time.

How do you calculate SUI?

To calculate approximately how much SUI you’ll pay, you need to know your state’s wage base and tax rate. From there, you can use this formula: 

taxable wage base x tax rate / 100 = SUI

Let’s say, for example, that you operate your business in California, and that’s where your employees are too. California’s wage base is $7,000 and the highest tax rate is 6.2%. Using the formula, you could estimate that you’ll pay $434 in SUI tax for an employee. 

Of course, this is just an estimate, since your specific tax rate will depend on a handful of different factors unique to your state and business. 

How do you get your SUI tax rate? 

To get your specific SUI tax rate, you need to sign up for a SUTA tax account with your state government. The Department of Labor (DOL) has a list of all the states’ contact information for their unemployment agencies

Your state agency will tell you what your new employer contribution rate is and for how many years you’ll get to keep that rate, then keep you updated on rate changes from your state. If you already have a SUTA tax account with your state government, you can log into your account to check your rate. 

State-by-state SUI tax rates

StateNew employer 2023 tax rateTax rate rangeWage base
Alabama2.7%0.2% – 6.8%$8,000
AlaskaStandard rate: 2.37%Employee rate: 0.51%1% – 5.4%$47,100
Arizona2%0.07% – 18.78%$8,000
Arkansas3.1% (2.9% + stabilization rate of 0.2%)0.3% – 14.2%$7,000
California3.4%1.5% – 6.2%$7,000
Colorado0.017%0.75% – 10.39%$20,400
Connecticut2.8%1.7% – 6.6%$15,000
Delaware1%0.1% – 5.4%$10,500
Florida2.7%0.1% – 5.4%$7,000
Georgia2.7%0.06% – 8.1%$9,500
Hawaii4%0.01% – 6.2%$56,700
Idaho1%1.245% – 5.4%$49,900
Illinois3.95%0.85% – 8.65%$13,271
Indiana2.5%0.5% – 7.4%$9,500
Iowa1%0% – 7%$36,100
Kansas2.7%0.17% – 6.4%$14,000
Kentucky2.7%0.3% – 9%$11,100
LouisianaVaries0.09% – 6.2%$7,700
Maine2.19%0.22% – 5.69%$12,000
Maryland2.3%1% – 10.5%$8,500
Massachusetts1.45%0.56% – 8.62%$15,000
Michigan2.7%0.06% – 10.3%$9,500
MinnesotaVaries0.1% – 8.9%$40,000
Mississippi1%0.2% – 5.4%$14,000
Missouri2.511%0% – 6.975%$10,500
MontanaVaries0.13% – 6.3%$40,500
Nebraska0.34%0% – 5.4%$24,000
Nevada3%0.3% – 5.4%$40,100
New Hampshire2.7%0.1% – 7%$14,000
New Jersey3.1%0.6% – 6.4%$41,100
New MexicoVaries0.33% – 5.4%$30,100
New York3.4%2.1% – 9.9%$12,300
North Carolina1.9%0.06% – 5.76%$29,600
North Dakota1.13%0.08% – 9.97%$40,800
Ohio2.7%0.8% – 10.3%$9,000
Oklahoma1.5%3% – 9.2%$25,700
Oregon 2.1%0.7% – 5.4%$50,900
Pennsylvania3.822%1.419% – 10.3734%$10,000
Rhode Island1.09%1.1% – 9.7%$28,200 – $29,700
South Carolina0.45%0.06% – 5.46%$14,000
Tennessee2.7%0.01% – 10%$7,000
Texas1.16%0.23% – 6.23%$9,000
UtahVaries0.3% – 7.3%$44,800
Vermont1%0.4% – 5.4%$13,500
Virginia2.5%0.13% – 6.23%$8,000
Washington1.43%0.27% – 6.03%$62,500
West VirginiaVaries1.5% – 8.5%$9,000
Wisconsin3.05%0% – 12%$14,000
WyomingVaries0% – 8.5%$29,100

How to pay unemployment tax

Once you sign up for an account with your state’s unemployment agency and receive an account number, you can login to make quarterly payments and report your SUTA tax liability. To pay FUTA, you must file Form 940 by January 31st. If your FUTA tax liability is more than $500 for a calendar year, you also need to make at least one quarterly payment, which you can do through the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System

What if my business operates in one state, but my employee works in a different state? 

You are subject the SUTA tax rate where the employee works.

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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