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New York considers boost to unemployment benefits, delay employer tax hikes to fund unemployment

New York could boost unemployment benefits while simultaneously delaying employer tax hikes in its latest attempt to facilitate economic recovery coming out of the coronavirus pandemic.

A bill that passed the state Senate this week would give a boost to weekly benefits for laid-off workers, as the state’s unemployment rate sits around 6.2%.

Tax rates for employers, which fund the unemployment insurance system, vary by how much they pay workers and how many workers they’ve laid off.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

“So many of our state’s small businesses barely survived the challenges of the pandemic, and if we allow them to be hit with massive increases in their payroll taxes, many will be forced to close their doors for good,” Sen. Anna Kaplan said. “At the same time, we can’t forget about workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic and who rely on unemployment insurance benefits to make ends meet.”

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At this point, New York State owes the federal government around $9 billion in unemployment debt. That amount has ballooned since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zach Sampson, who’s a spokesperson for the Upstate United taxpayer advocacy group, says small businesses cannot afford to be the ones that shoulder that burden.

“Struggling employers simply can’t afford a massive unemployment insurance tax hit,” he explained. Instead, Upstate United is asking that the state use federal aid to pay down the $9 billion in unemployment debt.



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