Looming unemployment tax increase worries many Florida small businesses

BRADENTON — Small businesses in Manatee County are bracing for another financial strain that lies ahead.

As a result of statewide unemployment conditions, businesses will see an increase in unemployment compensation taxes starting in January. The growing jobless rate depleted the state's trust fund for unemployment benefits in August, prompting the Department of Revenue to issue a tax rate increase.

"It's unfortunate because we've been trying to minimize our turnover over the years so that we pay a lower (tax) rate," said Randy Clark, owner of Georgia Carpet World in Bradenton. "It's going to be difficult to pass along that cost in this economy where we're trying to hold prices down."

The unemployment tax rate is based on a business' employee retention rate: the lower an employer's turnover rate, the less they pay in annual unemployment compensation.

But even the minimum annual rate for employers will skyrocket next year, increasing from $8.40 an employee to $100.30 an employee.

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