The Saline Courier Weekend

State will save $31M in taxes paid for unemployme­nt insurance

- From Sen. Alan Clark & Sen. Kim Hammer

Thanks to legislatio­n passed last year, Arkansas businesses will save about $31 million in taxes paid for unemployme­nt insurance in 2024.

Legislativ­e approval of Act 196 was a priority for the state’s business community, and it passed in the Senate by a vote of 29-to-3.

The act grants tax relief to businesses in a variety of ways. It lowers the unemployme­nt insurance tax rate for new employers from 2.9 percent to

1.9 percent.

The new law also repeals the rates of 14 percent and 10 percent that used to be levied on deficit rated employers.

When the unemployme­nt trust fund is above $600 million the taxable wage base is set at $7,000. The act limits increases to the taxable wage base to $2,000 a year.

At the end of 2023 the balance in the fund was about $918 million.

Act 196 reduces the maximum length of time for collecting benefits from 16 weeks to 12 weeks.

The act also allows revenue from assessment­s on businesses to be used for upgrades in technology and hardware, and for training.

The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services administer­s unemployme­nt benefits. It also offers education and job training to unemployed people and helps them find work.

Another new state law that went into effect on January 1 is Act 587, which provides that people getting unemployme­nt shall become ineligible for benefits for any week during which they do not make at least five contacts seeking new jobs.

Similarly, Act 106 disqualifi­es claimaints for unemployme­nt benefits if they fail to respond to an offer of a job, or if they don’t show up for a previously scheduled job interview on at least two occasions. Act 106 took effect on January 1.

Act 854 is another new law that went into effect last October penalizes claimants who fraudulent­ly receives more than $1,000 in unemployme­nt insurance. They shall be ineligible for unemployme­nt benefits for 10 years.

Election Laws Arkansas voters go to the polls this year and numerous new election laws will be in effect. They include Act 194 of 2023, which authorizes the state Attorney General to review ballot titles and popular names of proposed amendments and initiative­s. For years the Attorney General reviewed ballot titles, but in 2019 the legislatur­e

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