On the final day of the sixty-first Legislature, Idaho lawmakers passed a bill which provides varying levels of tax credits for private employers who hire at least one employee after April 15, 2011. Governor Otter signed the legislation amending Idaho Code section 63-3029F on April 13.
In order to qualify for the credit, a newly hired employee must receive qualifying employer-provided health care benefits as determined by the Idaho State Tax Commission and be employed in a county within in the state of Idaho with an unemployment rate at or greater than the benchmarked annual employment rate as determined by the Department of Labor on the date the new employee was hired. That benchmark is either ten percent (10%) or more at average annual earnings of twelve dollars ($12.00) or more per hour, or less than ten percent (10%) at average annual earnings of fifteen dollars ($15.00) or more per hour. The available credit is not earned, however, until the new employee has worked for a minimum of nine consecutive months with any part of the qualifying period ending during the taxable year for which the credit is claimed. Additionally, the credit is not available when an employer acquires a trade or business or who operates in a place of business the same or substantially identical trade or business as operated by another qualifying business within the prior twelve months. Employees transferred from a related business shall also not be included in the computation of the credit.
The amount of the credit varies between 2-6% depending on how the employer is rated for unemployment tax purposes. Employers with a positive rating earn the highest amount of the credit while deficit rated business earn the lower amount. The credit is calculated based on the gross salary paid to the eligible new employee during the initial twelve months of employment and claimed during the qualifying taxable year.
The Tax Commission is charged with promulgating rules implementing the legislation. To claim the credit, rated employers must attach to the employer's income tax return the taxable wage rate notice issued by the department of labor for the income tax year for which the credit is claimed. An estimate of the financial impact from the Department of Labor and Division of Financial Management indicates that the legislation could draw $7.9 million per year from the general fund while generating $25.3 million in state tax revenue.
This legislation is very complex and may be difficult for employers to determine whether they may quality for the credit. If you have questions, please contact your attorney.
The 59th legislative session of the Utah State Legislature ended last week. Below is a list of the winners and losers from legislative session preview post on February 18, 2011(and a couple of notable additions).
Immigration – Three highly controversial immigration bills affecting employment passed Utah’s House and Senate and were signed by Governor Gary Herbert on March 15, 2011.
- H.B. 497 grants immigration authority to state and local police to enforce general federal immigration laws when a person has been lawfully stopped, detained, or arrested for class a misdemeanors and felonies.
- H.B. 116 establishes a guest worker program for undocumented workers that would require background checks, proof of insurance and a Utah driving privilege card.
- H.B. 466 creates a state program coordinated with the federal guest worker program to begin a partnership between Utah and Mexico to allow Mexican temporary workers to work in Utah.
Community Service for Medicaid Coverage – Utah lawmakers approved H.B. 211 creating a pilot program requiring a small number of Medicaid recipients to do community service in exchange for medical coverage.
More Tax Breaks for New Full-Time Positions – The legislature also passed H.B. 17 which modifies provisions related to tax credits which may be claimed for new full-time employee positions to allow certain credits to be taken in consecutive years.
Construction Employees v. Owners – Both the House and Senate approved S.B. 35 targeting construction firms that classify employees as owners in order to avoid paying workers' compensation insurance premiums, contributing to unemployment insurance, or withholding taxes. The bill would require construction owners to file an annual ownership status report and includes penalties for violations for misclassifying employees and depriving employees of workers' compensation coverage, among other things. If signed by Governor Herbert, the bill will take effect July 1.
Worker Misclassification Task Force– S.B. 11 has been approved by the legislature and signed by Governor Herbert. This bill sets up a new task force for various state agencies to discuss and coordinate their efforts to enforce rules against the classification of workers as owners or as independent contractors.
Immigration – H.B. 253 would have required employer registration with E-Verify, but was defeated in the Senate.
Employee Noncompetition – H.B. 417, defeated in the House, would have enacted the Noncompetition Contract Act, which would have prohibited the enforcement of a noncompetition agreement against an employee who is discharged because of a reduction in force.
Gender Identity– S.B. 148 adding “gender identity” and “sexual orientation” to the list of protected classes under Utah discrimination in employment and housing statutes was defeated in the Senate.
Employment Practices & Protection from Violence – S.B. 40 giving victims of violence the right to sue an employer that denies extra time off work was defeated in the Senate.