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Unemployment Tax Looms For Small Businesses

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By Gina Jordan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-883579.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – A tax increase that could cripple the budget of small business owners was the topic of a workshop in the House Wednesday. Lawmakers don't have much time to act.

The legislature must decide whether to delay by two years what for some will be a twelvefold increase in the unemployment compensation tax. It's skyrocketing after the fund the state uses to pay unemployment benefits ran out of money last summer.

Randy Miller with the Florida Retail Federation told the Economic Development and Community Affairs Policy Council there's been a groundswell from members after notice of the tax increase was sent out in December.

"A lot of people responded saying, This is just going to do the opposite. I'm going to have to lay people off to pay this bill. I did not plan for this in my 2010 budget.'"

The minimum rate employers will pay per worker is jumping from about eight dollars to one-hundred dollars. Some businesses will pay much more, unless lawmakers act early in the session to stop the increase. The bill is coming due at the end of the first quarter.