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Are Unemployment Insurance Benefits Taxable?

It's tax time, and workers who collected unemployment in Wisconsin in 2012 are wondering whether they owe any taxes on their benefit payments. In short, they do. In 2009, the first $2,400 of unemployment insurance payments was exempt from federal income tax. The reprieve was only temporary, however. Like most sources of income, all unemployment payments have been taxable at both the state and federal level in Wisconsin since 2010.

How long will I continue to receive Unemployment Insurance?

In Wisconsin, unemployed workers who otherwise qualify for benefits may typically collect unemployment insurance benefits for 26 weeks. Since the start of the Great Recession, employees have at times been able to collect benefits for as many as 99 weeks. Currently, individuals who became unemployed in early 2011 may collect benefits in Wisconsin for up to 73 weeks. That can mean up to $26,499 in unemployment benefits for unemployed workers who earn the maximum weekly benefit rate of $363.

May I collect unemployment if I quit because I'm moving?

Whether you may collect unemployment insurance depends on the reason for your move. In most situations, when you voluntarily remove yourself from the workforce, you may not collect benefits. However, if you quit your job to accompany your spouse to a new city where she has received a new offer of employment, you typically may collect unemployment benefits in Wisconsin. The only other stipulation in that law provides that you be prepared to demonstrate to the unemployment division that it would be impractical for you to continue commuting to your old job after your move. What is impractical or practical is subject to interpretation, and may depend on your rate of pay, your job or line of work, the number of hours you work, and of course, the distance of your new commute.

Should I apply for unemployment? I'm suing my former employer.

Yes. If you have initiated an action against your former employer for violating your rights under the ADA, ADEA, Title VII, FMLA or most any other fair employment law, you have an obligation to mitigate your damages. In other words, the courts and their laws require you to take steps to remedy your unfortunate situation by attempting to earn money. In most cases, that means regularly and consistently applying for work, networking, starting or building a business, attending school, or a combination of those activities. It also means applying for unemployment insurance benefits.

Can I collect unemployment? I quit for a new job, but my new employer changed its mind.

Yes, quite possibly. A common question I receive from individuals seeking help with their unemployment insurance is whether they qualify for benefits if their new job doesn't work out. Most often, this situation rears its head when an employee accepts employment with a new employer while they still have a job. After receiving and accepting an offer of employment and quitting their old job, the employee will face an issue that causes the employer to rescind the offer or terminate them during the introductory period. Most often, the reason will be a discrepancy in a resume or employment background check, a bad reference, or simply a "bad fit" at the new employer.

Will I Receive Unemployment? I was Fired for my Behavior Outside of Work.

Employers often have rules that extend beyond the walls of the office or factory and intrude on the outside lives of their employees. Some of the most common policies are those regulating illegal drug use both at work and outside of work. Some of the most controversial policies are those regulating the ingestion of unhealthy, but otherwise legal substances, including alcohol and tobacco off work premises. Other "outside of work rules" that some employers seek to impose are social networking regulations and residency requirements for municipal workers.

Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Changes

Unemployment insurance claimants in Wisconsin now have to wait one week after their separation of employment for their unemployment benefits to begin. Employers and the unemployment trust fund will likely save a great deal of money because of this change, which appeared in this year's budget bill rather than as a result of formal proposal, bill, or recommendation from the UI Advisory council, a committee with both management and employee representatives charged with making legislative recommendations and insuring state compliance with federal laws. The practical effect of this change is that it will prevent workers with temporary layoffs from claiming and receiving unemployment benefits during short layoffs lasting less than one week.

My boss is evil. Will I receive unemployment if I quit?

Employees who quit their jobs with "good cause" attributable to the employer are entitled to collect unemployment insurance benefits. A recent Iowa case gained national attention over the past week because the circumstances were so unusual. Even Seth Meyers of NBC's Saturday Night Live mentioned the case during the October 8, 2011 Weekend Update.

How much unemployment insurance will I receive?

I usually talk to more than a dozen unemployed callers on the phone each week about their unemployment insurance benefits. Perhaps the most common question I receive is about how long they will receive benefits and what amount they will receive. Weekly unemployment insurance benefits are paid to employees who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. The states have administrative agencies charged with investigating unemployment insurance claims and appeals and ultimately make the decision about whether or not workers are entitled to benefits. To determine whether you will be entitled to benefits, take a look some of my previous posts or contact me directly.

Alan C. Olson & Associates | 2880 S Moorland Rd | New Berlin, WI 53151
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