Feb. 8, 2002 - By law, the Labor Department was to change the territory's unemployment tax rate structure on Jan. 1. However, employers won't learn what the new rates are until at least the end of February, because necessary changes to the computer system have not been completed, Labor Department spokeswoman Rhona Martinez said.
As soon as the information is computized, employer rates will be determined and then mailed to employers.
Under the new rate structure, employers with no history of layoffs -- those who qualify for the "minimum rate" -- do not have to contribute anything to the fund. Previously, they contributed 0.1 percent of $15,900 per year for each employee.
The $15,900 will continue to be the base for computing contributions. The rate for new employers will drop to 1 percent of that base from the current 1.5 percent.
Employers who fall behind in their payments will no longer be assessed a delinquency rate. However, any who were delinquent as of Jan. 1 will be assessed a 9 percent annual interest rate on the unpaid contributions, and any who file reports late will continue to incur a penalty of $5 a month.
There is also a change in the contribution rates for employers who have a "negative reserve ratio," the Labor Department term for what results when a company's laid-off workers collect more in benefits than their employer has paid into the Unemployment Trust Fund. That rate had been a flat 5.4 percent. It now varies from nothing to 6 percent, based on the company's record.
For more information, call the Unemployment Insurance Tax Unit on St. Thomas at 776- 3700 or on St. Croix at 773-1440.