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GENERAL FAQs
GENERAL QUESTIONS
  1. How do I register as an employer?
  2. Who is an employee? 
  3. How is the money to pay unemployment insurance benefits financed?
  4. Who is a subject employer?
  5. How do I find out what my UI tax rate is?  
  6. I have domestic (household) employees working in my home. Do I have to report their wages?
  7. I own a farm and operate with employees six months out of the year. Do I report wages on   these employees?
  8. I have employees paid commission only. Do I have to report these as wages?
  9. I hire people who work on contract. Do I have to report their earnings? What is the definition of an independent contractor?
  10. I hire employees on a temporary basis and musicians on contract. Are these independent contractors?
  11. Do nonprofit employers have to file payroll taxes?
  12. If an employee performs services in Oregon and another state(s), where should the wages be reported for unemployment insurance taxes?
  13. I purchased part of another business. Can I use the tax rate assigned to that business?
  14. I pay my employees on a piece-rate basis. How do I report hours worked on the Employee Detail Report (Form 132)?
  15. Are my contributions to an employee benefit plan considered wages?
  16. If I do not have any employees for a quarter, do I need to file a quarterly report?
  17. What is the difference in the unemployment insurance tax obligation between a corporation and an LLC?
  18. I am the owner of my business as a sole proprietor or partner. Do I report my personal earnings as wages for unemployment insurance tax purposes?
  19. I dissolved a partnership and incorporated. Do I have to report these changes to the Employment Department?
  20. Why does my tax rate change from year to year? What is an “experience rate"?
  21. What is the Special Payroll Tax Offset? What is it used for?
  22. What do I need to know and do if the Employment Department notifies me they are going perform an audit?
  23. What rights are protected by the Employment Department? What are my responsibilities as an employer?
  24. What are the Employment Department programs?
  25. Why is benefit charge information for employers not accessible online?
 
 
1. Question
How do I register as an employer?  
 
Answer
The Central Business Registry (from the Secretary of State office) provides online forms to register your business in Oregon. The forms can be accessed through their Web site.  
 
 
2. Question
Who is an employee? 
 
Answer
An employee is anyone who performs services for another person or organization under the direction and control of that person or organization. Even when the employer gives the employee freedom of action, the person performing the service may still be considered an employee. All individuals, including aliens and minors, who are employed for any compensation or under any contract of hire by an employer, are considered to be employees for the purpose of reporting and paying unemployment taxes. This includes contract, casual, or temporary labor.
 
Corporate officers who are paid for working for the corporation are considered to be employees of the corporation, even if they “own” the corporation. To qualify for the family corporate officer exclusion, an election must be made in writing to the Employment Department. The required form is available in English and Spanish.
 
Employment Department law does not cover some types of services. For example, service performed by an independent contractor (as defined by ORS 657.040 and ORS 670.600) would not be covered. Members of limited liability companies and of limited liability partnerships are excluded. Some people who are paid on commission and their wages are exempt, for instance, real estate salespersons and brokers.
 
For more information, please see these informational flyers:
 
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If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Employment Department tax representative at one of our offices or call 503-947-1488; TDD/Nonvoice Users 711 or by e-mail at taxinfo@emp.state.or.us.
 
 
3.Question
How is the money to pay unemployment insurance benefits financed?  
 
Answer
The money used to pay Oregon unemployment insurance benefits comes from Oregon employers.
  • Taxpaying Employers - Private, subject employers pay a quarterly tax (annually for domestic employers) directly to the State of Oregon. 
  • Reimbursing Employers - State and federal subject employers must reimburse (pay back) the state for benefits paid to former employees. 
  • Local governments or non-profit private sector employers (exempt under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3)) may choose either to pay the tax or reimburse the state for benefits paid.
 
Taxes collected are deposited in a trust fund used to pay unemployment insurance benefits.
The money to administer the unemployment insurance program comes from a federal tax, created by the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA). This federal tax is assessed against all private employers and is paid to the Internal Revenue Service.
 
If you have questions or need additional information, please contact the Employment Department tax representative at one of our offices or call 503-947-1488; TDD/Nonvoice Users 711 or by e-mail at taxinfo@emp.state.or.us.
 
 
4. Question 
Who is a subject employer?  
 
Answer
A "subject employer" is an employing unit required to provide unemployment insurance coverage for their workers.
  1. Subject employers (other than agricultural [farm] or domestic [home] employers) are those employing units who:
  • Pay $1000 or more to employees in a calendar quarter (a three-month period that begins January 1, April 1, July 1 or October 1), or
  • Have one or more employees in each of 18 weeks during a calendar year (January 1 through December 31).
  1. Subject employers are Agricultural (farm) employers who:
  •  Pay $20,000 or more cash wages in a calendar quarter, or
  •  Have 10 or more employees in each of 20 weeks during a calendar year.
  •  For more information, please see Agricultural Employers PDF Document informational flyer
  1. Subject employers are Domestic (home) employers who:
  • Pay $1,000 or more in cash wages in a calendar quarter whose employees work in a personal residence.
  • For more information, please see the Domestic Employers PDF Document informational flyer
 
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An employing unit is any individual or organization that has or had in its employ one or more individuals performing services for it within this state. Employing units must keep these records:
  • Social Security number for each employee
  • Proof of US citizenship or authorization to work in the US, and
  • Payroll records that show how much and when each employee was paid.
 
Not everyone who meets the above criteria is a subject employer as there are certain exemptions. For more information about exemptions, contact a tax representative at one of our offices or call 503-947-1488; TDD/Nonvoice Users 711 or by e-mail at taxinfo@emp.state.or.us.
 
 
5. Question 
How do I find out what my UI tax rate is?  
 
Answer
Go to Employer Account Access or call 503-947-1488.  
 
 
6. Question 
I have domestic (household) employees working in my home. Do I have to report their wages?
 
Answer
Domestic employers are required to cover employees once the employees are paid cash wages of $1,000 or more in total payroll in a calendar quarter, in either the current or preceding calendar year. For unemployment tax purposes, domestic employers do not include non-cash compensation (i.e., room and board) as wages.
 
When domestic employers meet this criterion they must:
  •   Register with the Employment Department.
  •   File an annual tax report (Forms OA & 132) or
  •   Quarterly tax reports (Form OQ & 132).
  •   Pay unemployment taxes.
 
To order a form go to our Web site www.oregon.gov/EMPLOY/TAX and then go to Order Forms or use the Order Request at the back of the Oregon Combined Payroll Tax Report booklet or call 503-947-1488, option 3.
 
During the year, if a former employee files an unemployment insurance claim, the Employment Department may need to contact the employer to obtain the needed wage information to determine eligibility.
 
Once a domestic employer becomes subject to Employment Department Law, they remain subject for the remainder of the current year and all of the next calendar year, as long as employment exists. This holds true even if the payroll is less than $1,000 in those quarters. For more information, please see the Domestic Employers PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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7. Question 
I own a farm and operate with employees six months out of the year. Do I report wages on these employees?
 
Answer
To become an agricultural employer subject to state unemployment insurance laws, you must meet one of the following criteria:
  • Have $20,000 cash payroll in a calendar quarter in either the current or preceding calendar year, or
  • Have 10 or more people working on 20 days, each day being in a separate calendar week during the current or preceding calendar year.
 
For unemployment insurance tax purposes, agricultural employers do not include non-cash compensation (i.e., room and board) as wages.
 
Once an agricultural employer becomes subject to Employment Department law, they become subject for the entire current calendar year and all of the next calendar year, as long as employment exists. This is true even if the payroll is less than $20,000 in those quarters. For more information, please see the Agricultural Employers PDF Document informational flyer
 
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8. Question 
I have employees paid commission only and a relative on payroll. Do I have to report these as wages?
 
Answer
Unless specifically excluded in ORS Chapter 657, wages include, but are not limited to, the following: salaries, hourly pay, piece rate, or payments by the job; vacation, sick, holiday, disability, and guaranteed wage payments; commissions, dividends, distributions, bonuses, gifts, fees, prizes, and tips. For more information, see the Employer, Employee, and Wages PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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9. Question 
I hire people who work on contract. Do I have to report their earnings? What is the definition of an independent contractor?
 
Answer
Individuals who are hired and compensated for services are employees and their compensation for services is taxable wages unless specifically excluded by law. For the definition of an independent contractor, please see the Independent Contractors PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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10. Question 
I hire employees on a temporary basis . Are these considered independent contractors?
 
Answer
Individuals hired and compensated on a temporary basis are employees and their compensation for services is taxable wages.
 
 
11. Question 
Do nonprofit employers have to file payroll taxes?
 
Answer
Nonprofit employers must register and file quarterly tax reports like other employers. Certain nonprofit employers may select different ways to finance their unemployment insurance costs. For more information, please see the Nonprofit Employers PDF Document informational flyer. Local governments may finance their costs by paying quarterly. For more information, please see the Local Government PDF Document publication.
 
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12. Question 
If an employee performs services in Oregon and another state(s), where should the wages be reported for unemployment insurance taxes?
 
Answer
This is determined by the application of four tests. The tests are similar to provisions of all other states’ law and are applied in descending order. They are applied to the employee’s work situation and not the employer. For more information, please see the Multi-State Employment PDF Document informational flyer.  
 
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13. Question 
I purchased part of another business. Can I use the tax rate assigned to that business?  
 
Answer
A new or existing employing unit that acquires an identifiable and segregable portion of an employer may be a partial successor. The identifiable and segregable unit of the transferring employing unit must be such that it could operate independently of the remainder of the transferring enterprise. A new employer’s tax rate will be based on the transferring employer’s experience. If the acquiring employer was previously subject to unemployment tax, the transferring employer’s experience would be consolidated with its experience in the following year.
 
If you believe you might qualify for partial transfer of a predecessor’s experience rating or need additional information, please contact the Employment Department tax representative at one of our offices or call (503) 947-1488; TDD/Nonvoice users 711; or send e-mail to taxinfo@emp.state.or.us
 
 
14. Question 
I pay my employees on a piece-rate basis. How do I report their hours worked on the Employee Detail Report (Form 132)?
 
Answer
The Employee Detail Report, Form 132, requires employers to report the number of hours worked during a quarter. If you do not keep hours worked as part of your payroll system, a reasonable estimate of hours worked is acceptable. For more information, please see the Hours and Estimating Hours Worked PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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15. Question 
Are my contributions to an employee benefit plan considered wages?
 
Answer
The Employment Department law generally considers fringe benefits as wages. However, it excludes payments for several types of benefits. For more information, please see the Cafeteria and 401(K) Plans PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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16. Question
If  I do not have any employees for a quarter, do I need to file a quarterly report?
 
Answer
A quarterly report is required as long as the account is active. Penalties may be applied for failing to file a report even if there is no payroll.
 
OPTIONS
 
1. Telephone Reporting: You can now file "no payroll" quarterly reports by telephone, any time day or night. If you have no payroll and no subject hours for any quarter, dial (503) 378-3981 and phone in your quarterly report.  
 
2. Form OQ: Place a "0" (zero) in the "subject wages" boxes for each subject program and use the "number of hours worked" box for the Workers’ Compensation Assessment. Leave blank "subject wages" boxes of any programs the employer is not subject to.
 
3. Business Change in Status Form: To close an account due to being out of business or no employees and none will likely be hired in the foreseeable future, complete a Business Change in Status Form.
 
Employers are required to notify the Employment Department of any changes in their business entity. To report, use the Business Change in Status Form. This form is also provided in the back of the Oregon Combined Payroll Tax Report booklet. For more information, please see the Change in Business Entity PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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17. Question
What is the difference in the unemployment insurance tax obligation between a corporation and a LLC?
 
Answer
Corporations must report and pay unemployment insurance taxes on amounts paid to individuals for services rendered. This includes amounts paid to corporate officers and shareholders. A LLC is not liable for unemployment insurance taxes on compensation for services paid to its members. For more information, please see the Corporations and Limited Liability Companies PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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18. Question
I am the owner of my business as a sole proprietor or partner. Do I report my personal earnings as wages for unemployment insurance tax purposes?
 
Answer
No. Owners of sole proprietorships and partnerships should not report their personal earnings as wages for unemployment insurance tax purposes. These individuals are not covered employees and also may not elect unemployment insurance coverage for themselves.
 
 
19. Question
I dissolved a partnership and incorporated. Do I have to report these changes to the Employment Department?
 
Answer
Employers are required to notify the Employment Department of any changes in their business entity. To report, use the Business Change in Status Form. The form is also available in the back of the Oregon Combined Payroll Tax Report booklet. For more information, please see the Change in Business Entity PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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20. Question
Why does my tax rate change from year to year? What is an “experience rate"? 
 
Answer

Tax Year​ Schedule​

​Taxable Base

Rate

Taxable Minimum

Rate​

Wage Base​

LGEBTF Base

Rate​

2013 8​ 3.3%​ 2.2%​ $34,100​ 1.0%​
2012​ 8​ 3.3% 2.2%​ $33,000​ 1.0%​
2011​ 8​ 3.3%​ 2.2%​ $32,300​ 1.0%​
2010​ 6​ 3.1%​ 1.8%​ $32,100​ 1.0%​
​2009 3​ 2.4%​ 0.9%​ $31,300​ 1.0%​
2008 2​ 2.1%​ 0.7%​ $30,200​ 1.0%​
 

 

Unemployment tax rates are assigned in accordance with Oregon law. New employers are assigned a “base rate” until they have sufficient “experience” to qualify for an “experience rate” based tax rate. This usually takes about three years. All employers are mailed their rate for the next calendar year by November 15th. The employer’s unemployment insurance tax rate is also pre-printed on the Oregon Quarterly Tax Report (Form OQ) sent in February of each year. For more information, please see the How UI Tax Rates Are Determined PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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21. Question
What is the Special Payroll Tax Offset? What is it used for?
 
Answer
Special Payroll Tax Offsets are authorized by the Oregon Legislature and collected using the unemployment insurance tax system. They are included as part of the UI tax rate, but the money is not deposited in the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. For that reason, the money cannot be certified as "contributions paid to the state" when preparing federal FUTA Form 940.
 
Special Payroll Tax Offsets are used to fund various state programs. Programs that have been supported this way include:
  • Wage Security Fund -- Pays final wages to persons who are unemployed and whose employer could not afford to make a final payroll.
  • SEDAF--The Supplemental Employment Department Administrative Fund is used to provide Employment Department services.
  • JOBS Plus Program -- Provided partial wage reimbursement to employers (this program ended on June 30, 2005). 
 
For more information go to Special Payroll Tax Offset.
 
 
22. Question
What do I need to know and do if the Employment Department notifies me they are going perform an audit?
 
Answer
All federal and state taxing agencies perform audits to ensure compliance with their laws. An auditor confirms all wages have been reported correctly and all taxable wages have been computed correctly.
 
You may be required to provide payroll records, W-2s, 1099s, IRS and State Department of Revenue records, and general disbursement records such as your check register, invoices, and canceled checks for review. For more information, please see the Questions and Answers about UI Tax Audits PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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23. Question
What rights are protected by the Employment Department? What are my responsibilities as an employer?
 
Answer
Employer rights include confidential handling of your information and protection from unauthorized disclosure. Oregon law provides you with appeal rights. Many documents you receive give you the option to appeal the decision or assessment.
 
Employer responsibilities specify that you must:
  •   Allow the Employment Department to review your records, if asked.
  •   Register using the Combined Employer’s Registration.
  •   Post the notice that you are a subject employer where employees can read it.
  •   Keep adequate business payroll records.
  •   Pay taxes or reimbursements when due.
  •   File the required quarterly or annual tax forms on time with complete information.
  •   Inform the Employment Department and Department of Revenue of any changes to the organization or its status.
 
For more information, please see the Employer Rights and Responsibilities PDF Document informational flyer.
 
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24. Question
What are the Employment Department programs?
 
Answer
Employment Department programs include:
 
For more information, please see the Employers Handbook PDF Document. You can order a paper copy of the Employers Handbook ( ED Pub 117) online at http://findit.emp.state.or.us/tax/forms.cfm or call 503-947-1488, Option 3.
 
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25. Question
Why is benefit charge information for employers not accessible online? 
 
Answer
Benefit charge information is currently provided quarterly, either by paper or electronically, if an employer requests that they receive benefit charge statements. We are continually expanding the services we offer online and this may be one way to offer more current information in the future.