FUTA: What Is It And What Are The 2021 Rates?

Does dealing with taxes ever feel like living in a world of acronyms? We think so, too, but don't worry, we'll break this one down for you.

FUTA stands for Federal Unemployment Tax Act, and if you're an employer in the United States, you'll want to keep this one on your radar. It's an employer-paid federal tax that goes toward payments of unemployment compensation for workers who've lost jobs. To start, the rate is six percent (6%), but, in most cases, employers can receive a credit when filing Form 940, Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment (FUTA) Tax Return. The credit is 5.4 percent (5.4%), leaving a net FUTA tax rate of 0.6 percent (0.6%).

Pretty straightforward, right?

Know the difference between US income tax and payroll tax to keep your books in order.

What are FUTA credit reduction states?

Instances where the net 0.6 percent (0.6%) rate wouldn't apply to a state is if the state has taken out a Federal Unemployment Trust Fund loan and was unable to pay it back within the given timeframe. These are federal government loans that a state can use if it doesn't have the funds to pay Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits for its residents.

When a state has this kind of loan, the amount of the credit on the FUTA tax shifts, reducing by a rate determined by the Department of Labor (DOL) until the loan is repaid. The credit reduction rate starts at 0.3 percent (0.3%), and an additional 0.3 percent (0.3%) is added each year there's still money owed.

Not only that, if there's still a balance on the loan in year three and five, the government may reduce the credit even more.

All in all, this is why they're referred to as credit reduction states.

How does a FUTA credit reduction state affect employers? (And Year-End?) 

All right, that was a lot of state government-level information, but how does this impact you as an employer?

Remember, this is an employer-paid tax, and it's up to you to know if your state is a FUTA credit reduction state. Keeping an eye on whether your state falls under this category can save you from stress and headaches when filing your Form 940 with the IRS.

FUTA credit reduction states.

The DOL announced the new rates each year, typically after November 10, which is the deadline.

For the 2021 tax year, the US Virgin Islands (USVI) are once again a FUTA credit reduction state. Employers in this state will have to be mindful of the credit reduction rates that apply when filling out Form 940. The rate for 2021 is 3.3 percent (3.3%) as per the DOL.

No other states are currently FUTA credit reduction states.

Knowing these kinds of tax situations and rates are just another way to keep year-end running smoothly for your small business.

We're here to help.

The best way to reach us is by submitting a ticket from within Wagepoint. You can also reach us by email at us_support@wagepoint.com.

Want to learn more? 

Access other important year-end goodies in your Year-End Survival KIT:

​​Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informational and does not replace the need for working with an accountant, bookkeeper or other financial professional. While every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this content, the relevant laws undergo constant revision. It is a best practice to stay informed on these topics and to consult with experienced professionals. Any errors or inaccuracies brought to our attention will be corrected as quickly as possible.

About the Author

Laura A. Barton

Laura is a Content Specialist with Wagepoint who has a passion for telling stories in both the fiction and non-fiction realms. She loves narratives that explore human nature and has a particular interest in mental health. Although writing takes up a good chunk of her time, she can otherwise be found immersing herself in social media, reading, or binge-watching videos online.

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