What's Next for Unemployment in Tennessee?

Date: December 23, 2015 Last Edit: January 07, 2016

NFIB and five other groups on the
state’s Unemployment Compensation Advisory Council received a full update of the state’s unemployment system at a
meeting earlier this month in Nashville. 

Employers are currently on the lowest
tax table, paying unemployment insurance (UI) taxes on each worker’s first $9,000
earned.  Due to improvements in fraud
detection and the improving economy, Employment Security Administrator Linda
Davis said the state expects further relief for employers Jan. 1 – with the
taxable wage base dropping to $8,000.  As
of Nov. 30, the Unemployment Trust Fund balance had risen to nearly $926
million.

Improving
integrity

Tennessee tested an online identity
verification program in December to stop fraudulent payments, with early
successes reported. Designed after a similar program in New Jersey, each
claimant must answer a series of personal questions in order to access the
system before they can receive UI benefits.

In addition, the Treasury Offset
Program (TOP) started in July 2012 continues to pay dividends: collections have
exceeded $36 million, with more than $10 million collected thus far in 2015. Also, overpaid claimants will be liable for up
to 10 years from the current six years, and the program will soon extend to
employers that owe delinquent UI taxes.  

Current overpayments owed exceeds $140 million, $31 million of which is accumulated interest, so TOP and other aggressive recovery programs are critical to maintaining trust fund integrity.

The division’s UI Recovery Unit has
filed 3,470 liens and 1,912 installment plans the first 11 months of 2015, up
from 2,107 and 1,108, respectively, for the same period in 2014.

New computer system coming

Davis reported UI Modernization (the
state’s new computer system) is on track to be completed in late April, which
should improve ease of business and efficiencies for employers and employees
alike. The division expects to hold educational employer meetings in 13 local
workforce areas in March.

NFIB has learned the division likely will
be proposing legislation next month to modify the seasonal employer provision that
is scheduled to be implemented in July 2016.  We will alert our members with details as they
emerge.

NFIB members are encouraged to contact
State Director Jim Brown at jim.brown@nfib.org or 615-874-5288 with any questions or comments about unemployment legislation,
modernization or related matters.

 

 

 

 

 

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