Can you contest your tax rate?

Can you contest your tax rate?

Having recently received your 2017 tax rate notice, you may have questions about how they are determined or disagree with the rate given to your business. So what do you do?

Unfortunately, South Carolina laws governing the tax rate assignment do not provide for an appeals process. However, if you disagree with the historical information contained in your notice of contribution rate you can submit a written request for a review within 30 days from the date on the notice. You must submit your request, along with any documentation of errors either by email at rateinfo@dew.sc.gov, fax 803-737-2862 or by mail at:

S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce
Experience Rate Section
P.O. Box 995
Columbia, SC 29202

The tax rates, according to state law, adjust automatically each year based on a formula that considers the following:

  • Projected benefit costs for the year (“base rate”)
  • Projected amount required to return the Trust Fund to an adequate balance by 2020 (“solvency surcharge”)

Tax rates are set each year to fund these components. Each employer is also responsible for a Departmental Administrative Contingency Assessment (DACA) surcharge of 0.06 percent which is added to the base rate and interest surcharge:

Total Tax Rate = Base Rate + Solvency Surcharge + DACA

If you have additional questions, you can contact the employer tax services line at 803-737-3080. To view the 2017 Tax Rate Chart click here.

A look into textiles in South Carolina

textiles in sc

Don’t tell Matt Shannon that the textile industry in South Carolina is dead or dying.

“We are here, we are strong,” said Shannon, head of Greenwood Mills weaving department. The mill is a private, family-owned textile plant that has been a fixture in the town of Greenwood for the past 127 years.

pan greenwood mills

While the industry doesn’t employ nearly the numbers it did even as recent as 2001, where the textile mills industry employed more than 52,000 people, there are still nearly 15,000 employed in mills around the state.

The textile industry is considered a legacy industry, meaning that the projected job growth of the industry is declining, but it still has a competitive advantage because of its location. Textiles place well above the national average in the Upstate region for their location quotient, the number that is determined by how influential an industry is in a certain region. You can find the report here.

However, Shannon and Greenwood Mills Human Resources Director Lisa McMillan agree that there won’t be any significant amount of change in the industry’s job growth, but it can be assumed that there will be a slight and steady increase over the coming years due to the number of companies coming back to the states coupled with the number of people expected to retire in the coming years.

“This isn’t just at our plant, but industry everywhere,” McMillan said.

As the textile industry evolved from labor intensive machinery, to water powered equipment and now to a more technology driven plant, the kinds of employees needed have evolved too. Both Shannon and McMillan said the types of people Greenwood Mills is looking to hire are people who want a career, and who are willing to start at the bottom.

“The biggest problem we face is finding qualified labor that is willing to work. A lot of people want a job, but when it comes down to actually working, they don’t want to do it,” Shannon said. “A lot of times it’s the simple things like showing up on time and doing what you’re supposed to.”

What you can expect as a new hire at Greenwood Mills are not desk jobs, but a place where everyone works on the floor in a fast-paced environment. Training for many of the positions is done in-house and the only qualifications you need are basic math and communication skills.

Shift work is a big part of the efficiency of the plant, and while everyone works on average 40 to 50 hours a week, new hires usually work the off-shift hours and gradually work up to the day shift. There are more technical positions that are needed.textile machinery

“Every new machine is more mechanized than the last, and if technology interests you, there is a job for you in the textile industry,” Shannon said.

Save time, cut paperwork with SIDES

Did you know that using the State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES)                   E-Response can save you time and money?

SIDES E-Response is a web-based system that provides a secure, electronic and nationally standardized format to respond to Unemployment Insurance (UI) information requests at no cost to you. There you can respond to separation information requests, wages reported and possible charges, and view and respond to claims determinations and decisions. You can also use the website to complete earnings verification requests.

Other benefits of using SIDES E-Response include:

  • Reduces staff time
  • Reduces paperwork
  • Provides data checks to ensure the exchange of complete and valid information
  • Helps prevent fraud
  • Helps keep your taxes low

Because SIDES E-Response is a standardized format, you can communicate with multiple states in which you do business all with the click of a few buttons.

To sign up for SIDES E-Response in South Carolina, please register to setup your account.

Once your account has been activated, you can access SIDES E-Response here. When responding, you will need your Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN), State Employer Identification Number (SEIN) and Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Your time is valuable, register today.

Focus on manufacturing

Manufacturing is a main focus for South Carolina, and the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) partners with several manufacturing organizations, including the S.C. Manufacturing Alliance, S.C. Chamber of Commerce and the S.C. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (SCMEP), to respond to the needs of manufacturers and their employees as well as provide them with resources.

To give you an example of the impact of manufacturing in South Carolina, consider this:

  • Last year the manufacturing industry had a statewide impact of more than $1 billion.
  • Manufacturing holds 12 percent of all employment in South Carolina.
  • Data shows that each manufacturing job creates 2 1/2 other spin-off jobs.
  • As of the end of this school year, nearly 35,000 S.C. high school students are preparing for advance manufacturing jobs.

One of the many ways DEW supports this industry is through its Rapid Response program which uses a team of experts to implement a fast-paced business growth system and innovation tools to assist with employee retention that helps both the employer and employee receive assistance and retraining. Since 2011, 81 companies have benefited from Rapid Response services.

Additionally, South Carolina is one of the 10 original recipients of the Department of Defense (DOD) diversification grant in round I, meaning support and resources are available to help defense firms reduce their dependency on DOD contracts. As part of this program, businesses can apply for consulting services in four areas: strategic planning, sales and marketing, lean product development and quality certifications, lessening the impact stemming from potential federal defense cuts.

In the past year, 20 defense firms were provided diversification assistance, resulting in:

  • Retention of more than $421 million in sales.
  • Creation of more than $219 million in new sales.
  • Retention of 1,090 jobs while creating 450 new jobs.

These programs are not just for manufacturers, they can be applied to other businesses who may be at risk of layoffs or are wanting to diversify their companies. For more information about these programs, contact Michelle Paczynski

Aiken, Union counties receive work ready certification

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Gov. Nikki Haley announced today that Aiken and Union counties have received certification through the South Carolina Work Ready Communities (SCWRC) initiative. Aiken and Union join the 42 other counties that have met the specified workforce and education goals.

South Carolina leads the nation with the most certified work ready communities, and continues to attract international business development due to its commitment to economic growth and a robust workforce pipeline.

“With Aiken and Union counties being named Certified Work Ready, we are only two counties away from reaching our goal of being the first state in the country to be fully certified. This is a testament of Team South Carolina’s hard work in making sure we have the most competitive business environment in the world for companies looking for a place to call home,” Gov. Haley said.

“We celebrate what this means for these counties and our state” said Cheryl M. Stanton, Executive Director of the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. “With the Work Ready initiative, and a continuing commitment to skilled workforce development, it is not surprising that employment numbers have been at historic highs over the last year, and companies continue to expand and choose South Carolina as the place to do business.”

The South Carolina Work Ready Community initiative provides a framework to strengthen economic development using a community-based approach, grounded in certifying counties as work ready.

To become a South Carolina Work Ready Community, a county must reach or exceed goals in earning National Career Readiness Certificates (achieved through WorkKeys® testing), must meet or exceed the three-year graduation rate average or improvement percentage, and must engage business support.

A map of South Carolina’s 44 certified counties is available here.

For additional information, visit www.scworkready.org.

Business service teams help find qualified employees

McLeod Health, one of the Pee Dee’s largest employers, recently needed to fill several entry level positions in its Pee Dee facilities.

The health service provider, which serves more than one million residents in the Northeast region of South Carolina and Southeast region of North Carolina, teamed up with the Pee Dee Local Workforce Development Area (LWDA) to recruit, screen and refer eligible applicants to fill those positions.

The Pee Dee LWDA Business Services Team got to work identifying the skills and skill level requirements of the available positions and to ensure that the best quality referrals are made. They piloted the WorkKeys’ profiling of four entry level positions, Medical Service Technician, Environmental Services Technician, Nutrition Services Associate 3 and Certified Medical Assistant.

After several months of planning and establishing protocols, the team began referring job seekers in December 2015 and as of Feb. 1, 2016, approximately 50 referrals have been made and at least 7 individuals have been hired.

The LWDA provides candidate screening and matching services to help identify qualified candidates. It also offers assessments of potential job applicants to help ensure they possess the skills to do the job.

Assessments such as WorkKeys measure basic skills as well as a candidate’s communication, problem solving and interpersonal skills. There is also the WorkKeys job profiling assessment that helps businesses understand the skills required for specific positions.

Click here to find an LWDA near you.

Mullet Door opens opportunities with On-the-Job Training program

When Jeff Davis, manager of Mullet Door in Abbeville, heard about the On-the-Job Training program available through SCWorks, he was interested. The problem was he didn’t have an opening.

A few months later, however, Davis called Upper Savannah Business Services Representative, Willie Forrest, telling him that he had an available position and wanted to use the OJT program at the Abbeville facility. Within days, Davis received several resumes from Forrest and eventually hired a candidate who had recently been dislocated from another job.

About a month later, another hiring need arose. Once again, Davis used the OJT program and hired an out-of-school youth for the job. Throughout the course of several months, Davis hired a total of four people in through the OJT program.

OJT is a federal program funded by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that lets a business hire and train skilled workers and then reimburses them for the cost of training workers who have the ability to do the job but lack the practical hands-on experience.

Employers benefit from more efficient recruiting, more targeted training and assistance with training expenses. Other benefits include:

  • OJT specialists help find the right talent when you need it, reducing time, effort, and money spent on recruiting.
  • OJT helps train the right workers to meet the businesses requirements.
  • Businesses receive between 50% and 75% of the costs to provide on-the-job training for individuals hired (reimbursement depends on the size of the business).

Those employees eligible for this program include youth, the unemployed or underemployed, laid-off workers and homemakers re-entering the workforce.

Davis said that the productivity of the people who have gone through this program is better than those who is now a champion for the program and is encouraging other businesses in his Abbeville area to participate in OJT as well. This has resulted in OJT placements at several other businesses.

What to do if a former employee files for unemployment

When a former employee files for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits, you have the opportunity to supply information to the Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) regarding the reason the individual is now unemployed.

However, you must respond to DEW within 10 calendar days of receiving notification that a former employee has filed for unemployment in order to prevent him or her from wrongfully receiving UI benefits.

If the department does not receive a response, DEW assumes the individual is unemployed through no fault of their own. An employer that fails to respond to a separation request may experience increased benefit charges and higher unemployment insurance taxes.

There are three ways you can respond to a separation request: the South Carolina Business One Stop (SCBOS), the State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES) or by mail.

If a complete response requires supporting documentation such as copies of warnings, violated company policy or a letter of resignation, attach the supporting documents to your response. If you are filing online and are unable to attach files via email, simply mail or fax your attachments to the address or number listed on the form.

  • Responding through SCBOS If you are registered online with the South Carolina Business One Stop (SCBOS), you will receive the Requests for Separation Information Form (NET-101) by email. Simply click reply, fill out the form and press send.
  • Responding through SIDES If you do not have an account with SCBOS or you usually submit information by mail, you can use a free secure electronic system called the State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES) E-Response. This application allows you to respond to information requests, attach documentation and receive a date-stamped confirmation receipt.

Since SIDES E-Response is a nationally standardized format, you can communicate with multiple states in which you do business.

Register for SIDES E-Response in South Carolina here. Once your account has been activated, you can access SIDES E-Response here. If you have questions, you can access the user guide or contact DEW at UI-email-ER-Registration-DL@dew.sc.gov.

  • Responding by mail If you are not registered with SCBOS or SIDES, you will receive a Request for Separation Information Form by mail. Submit the completed form within 10 calendar days and return it to the address of the local SC Works center printed on the form.

After DEW investigates the claim, it issues a written determination detailing its ruling on the claimant’s eligibility and on any point of law considered. If you disagree with the decision, you do have the right to appeal. Each determination letter contains detailed appeal rights and information. For more information regarding the appeals process, click here.

 

Take Advantage of New Hire Tax Credit

Businesses could be eligible for a tax credit when a new employee is hired.

The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) program is federally funded program that could reduce your federal income tax liability when you hire unemployed veterans or individuals with documented barriers to employment.

Administered by the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW), the WOTC will provide businesses with a 40 percent tax credit on eligible employees’ first year of wages after they have worked 400 hours. Qualifying wage caps do apply.

There is no limit on the number of qualified new hires businesses can claim. The organization can receive a $2,400 to $9,600 credit for each eligible employees.

To take advantage of the program, simply complete and file the required paperwork. It either can be filed electronically or via the mail. However, requests must be postmarked or e-filed within 28 days of the employee’s start date. Forms can be found here.

Take advantage of the WOTC program, and increase your return on investment while helping targeted employees become self-sufficient and earn a steady income.

You can benefit from hiring within the following groups:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipient.
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients.
  • Columbia/Sumter Empowerment Zone / Marlboro County Rural Renewal Community residents.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation or Ticket-to-Work Participants.
  • Recently released ex-felons.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients.
  • Disabled veterans who within in the last year were discharged or unemployed for more than six months.
  • Disabled veterans who within in the last year were discharged or unemployed for more than six months.
  • Unemployed veterans.
  • Veterans receiving SNAP.

For more information, contact S.C. WOTC Coordinator Laura Rushton at 803-737-2592 or laura.rushton@dew.sc.gov.

Important Upcoming Changes in State Law – Corporate Officer Exemption

Beginning January 1, 2015, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce will be implementing a new law regarding unemployment insurance coverage for corporate officers.

S.C. Code Ann. § 41-27-265 exempts corporate officers from state unemployment insurance (UI) coverage. However, a corporation may elect coverage of its corporate officers. The law only applies to officers of a corporation, and does not apply to other business entities such as limited liability companies (LLCs), sole proprietors or partnerships.

If corporate officers are covered by UI, the employer must report the individuals each quarter as employees and pay state unemployment taxes on their wages. Corporate officers that are covered by UI may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they lose their jobs and meet eligibility requirements.

More in-depth information and frequently asked questions are provided at dew.sc.gov/corpofficers.