Frequently Asked Questions

What is the taxable wage base?

The taxable wage base or taxable wage limit is the amount of wages per employee on which an employer must pay unemployment taxes in a calendar year.

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How do I figure excess wages?

Excess wages are the portion of wages paid in a quarter that are above the yearly taxable wage base. This site has a demonstration of a business′ excess wage calculations for each quarter in a year.

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Do I use the wages paid by the previous owner of my business when figuring excess wages?

You may use the wages paid by the previous owner of your business only if the Division of Employment Secuirty (DES) has determined that you are a successor to the previous owner′s unemployment insurance (UI) account. If the DES has determined that you are a successor, you should have received an official determination letter to this effect.

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When are the Missouri Quarterly Contribution and Wage (CW) Reports mailed?

The DES mails Missouri Quarterly Contribution and Wage (CW) Reports to all employers with established accounts on the fourth last working day of each calendar quarter.

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Where should I mail my Missouri Quarterly Contribution and Wage (CW) Report?

Paper reports should be sent to:

Missouri Division of Employment Security
P.O. Box 888
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0888

Employers that submit magnetic media reports should send all materials to:

Missouri Division of Employment Security
ATTN: Employer Accounts/Magnetic Media
421 E Dunklin St.
P.O. Box 59
Jefferson City, MO 65104-0059

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Whom should I contact for information on reporting wages by magnetic media?

The magnetic media reporting specifications can be found here. If you have questions, please contact a Senior Contributions Supervisor at 573-751-3422.

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How should I report a probationary worker?

The wages of a probationary worker are reportable just like any other worker. However, certain workers who qualify under the law as probationary workers may be reported on the Missouri Quarterly Contribution and Wage (CW) Report as probationary to protect an employer′s account from UI benefit charges.

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Do I have to report family members?

For a sole proprietor, partner, or member of a limited liability company (LLC) that is classified as a sole ownership or partnership, some family members may not be reportable for state unemployment tax. The family exemption does not apply to the family of the officers or stockholders of a corporation. Wages may not be reportable if the worker is related to the sole proprietor/partner/member as:

  • Parent
  • Spouse
  • Son or daughter under the age of 21 (natural, adopted, stepchild, or foster child)

Note: The worker must have a qualifying relationship to all partners in a partnership or all members in a "partnership" LLC to be exempt. The qualifying relationship does not have to be the same for all partners/members. For example:

Rebecca and Joseph, a mother and her natural born son, operate a partnership. Rebecca′s husband, who also is Joseph′s father, works for the partnership. His wages are not reportable because he has a qualifying relationship with both partners. Joseph′s wife also works for the partnership. Her wages are reportable because she does not have a qualifying relationship with one of the partners (she is Rebecca′s daughter-in-law, not her natural, adopted, step-, or foster daughter under the age of 21).

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Is a cafeteria plan reportable and taxable?

Contributions to a cafeteria plan paid by an employee and/or employer for qualified benefits are not reportable if such payment would not be wages for federal unemployment tax. These qualified benefits can be payments to an accident and health plan, group term life insurance premiums, and dependent care assistance benefits up to the limits set by the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA)..

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I didn′t pay wages this quarter. Do I have to file a Quarterly Contribution and Wage (CW) Report anyway?

If you have an active account and have sold your business, closed your business or will operate without employees for the foreseeable future, you need to file a Report on Change of Business Operations [this form is included with your Quarterly Contribution and Wage (CW) Report]. The DES may need to inactivate your account or, if you have sold your business, may need to transfer it to the new owner.

If you have an active account and will have employees in the future, you must file a Quarterly Contribution and Wage (CW) Report each quarter, even if you paid no wages in the quarter. Failure to file may cause the DES to assess you for estimated wage amounts and may cause you to receive a penalty.

You can submit all information online through the DES Internet Unemployment State Tax Automative Reporting, (USTAR) system, including a "No Payroll" quarterly report or information on cessation of employment.

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How do I adjust wages that I reported previously?

To adjust previously reported amounts, you can file an adjustment request by paper or online.

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How do I report workers who work in more than one state?

You may have to report different workers to different states, but you always report all the quarterly wages of an individual worker to a single state. This site has a discussion of where a multi-state worker should be reported.

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Do I have to pay Missouri unemployment tax?

An entity (person, partnership, corporation, etc.) that employs a worker may become liable for Missouri state unemployment tax. Liability depends on several factors, including the type of entity and the type of work being performed. A discussion of how an entity becomes liable is in the Liability for Missouri Unemployment Tax section.

The DES uses the form "Unemployment Tax Registration" to gather information about whether an entity is liable for state unemployment tax or not. Even entities that are not liable must complete and return this form. The same information may be provided online at Online Registration for New Business.

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How do I get set up to pay state unemployment tax?

To register with the DES, you should complete a "Unemployment Tax Registration" or the online registration (see above). If you are liable for state unemployment tax, the DES will send you an official written determination to that effect and you will receive "Quarterly Contribution and Wage Reports" on which to report your employees.

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What will my tax rate be?

A new employer receives an assigned beginning tax rate based on its industrial classification. The current new employer rates are in a table in the Tax Rates section.

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Now that I have employees, what other agencies should I contact?

The Missouri Business Portal is your single point of entry for business registration, filings, licenses, and permits for doing business in the State of Missouri. Information is provided about how to research, start and register your business, ongoing requirements of various agencies, and resources available.

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Where can I get a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)?

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues Federal Employer Identification Numbers (FEIN). Applications may be completed online at,,id=102767,00.html OR you can request form SS-4 (FEIN application) and instructions by calling the IRS at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676).

The IRS also provides information on the Internet about who must have an FEIN and how to get one. See the IRS website for other helpful employer tax information.

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What are the requirements for Federal unemployment tax?

The reporting requirements of the FUTA′s reporting requirements are similar to those of Missouri unemployment tax, but are not identical. Federal unemployment tax is administered by the IRS. Contact them for information on your liabilities for federal unemployment tax.

The IRS provides information on the Internet about federal unemployment tax. You can contact the IRS by phone for publications and forms at 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676). Some useful publications for business owners are:

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Is Missouri a "credit reduction state"?

Employers in certain states do not receive the full 5.4 percent credit on their federal unemployment tax for paying state unemployment tax. These states are called "credit reduction states." Missouri is a credit reduction state.

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How can I reduce my tax rate?

A beginning rate is fixed for all new employers of the same industrial classification and cannot be immediately changed by an employer’s actions. However, after two to three years an employer usually becomes eligible for an experience rate, which is based partly on the claims against the employer′s account. An employer may attempt to keep an experience rate lower by maintaining stable employment (few layoffs) and by reviewing UI claims against its account to ensure they are not in error.

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What is a benefit claim?

A claim may be filed when a worker loses his/her job through no fault of his/her own, usually due to a layoff. Benefits paid are then charged against the account of the liable employer. This raises the employer’s experience rate.

The UI benefits paid when working less than full time will be the difference between the claimant′s weekly benefit amount (WBA) and that part of the claimant′s wages for the week thatare in excess of $20 or 20 percent of the WBA, whichever is greater.

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When and for how long can benefits be claimed?

When a worker files a new claim and was paid sufficient wages to qualify for UI benefits, an effective date of the claim is established as the Sunday before the date the claim was filed. This effective date also establishes the claimant’s benefit year (BY) as the one-year period beginning with such effective date. A maximum benefit amount (MBA) is established for the claim (up to WBA x 20). The claimant can file for UI benefits until the MBA is exhausted during the BY. This eligibility period can be extended by federal law.

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How is eligibility determined?

Benefits paid to a claimant during a BY are based on wages paid in the base period, which is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the effective date of the claim.

In order to qualify as an insured worker, a claimant must:

  • Lose his/her job through no fault of the claimant OR quit for a valid reason related to the work or the employer.
  • Make at least $2,250—at least $1,500 during one of the calendar quarters, and at least $750 during the remainder of the year—from an insured employer during the base period (see chart above).
  • AND his/her total base period wages must be at least 1.5 times his/her highest quarter wages.
  • OR he/she must make at least $19,500 during two of the four quarters.

In order to remain eligible to receive UI benefits, a claimant also must be able to work and available for full-time work. In order to be considered available for work, the claimant must be actively and earnestly seeking employment. A claimant may be ineligible if unemployed because of a suspension for misconduct connected with work, a stoppage of work due to a labor dispute or while the claimant is receiving other remuneration, such as vacation pay, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN), pay, holiday pay or employer pension.

If the DES finds the claimant was discharged for misconduct connected with work, the disqualification can only be terminated if the claimant earns six times his/her WBA in insured work after the date of discharge. If a claimant is disqualified on a subsequent discharge, the claimant shall be required to earn wages in an amount equal to or in excess of six times the claimant′s WBA for each disqualification.

If the claimant voluntarily left employment without good cause attributable to the employer or to the work, he/she may be disqualified until other employment is secured and at least 10 times the WBA in insured work is earned. This same disqualification may apply if the claimant refused to apply for or accept suitable employment offered through the DES, designated staff of a state or state-controlled public employment office, or a former employer.

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How much can claimants receive?

The claimant′ WBA is calculated at 4 percent of the average of the two highest quarterly wages in the base period, not to exceed $320. All weekly benefits are rounded down to an even dollar.

The MBA is computed at one-third of the wage credits in the base period or 20 times the WBA, whichever is less. Wage credits used in each quarter to calculate the MBA are limited to a maximum of $8,320 (26 x $320 = $8,320).

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Will the employer be notified when a claim is filed?

When a new claim is filed and the DES finds the claimant has had sufficient wages to qualify for UI benefits, a notice of the claim is mailed to the last employing unit for which the claimant worked and to each employer in the claimant′s base period. Should a claimant renew this claim for UI benefits at any time during this BY, a similar notice is mailed to the last employing unit for which the claimant worked and to any base period employer that has filed a request to be notified the next time the claim is renewed.

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How can the employer protest the claim?

If an employer has information that it believes would cause an individual to be held ineligible or disqualified from receiving UI benefits, it should immediately file a protest with the DES Regional Claims Center (RCC) where the claim was filed. The protest can be filed by mail or by fax. The location of the assigned RCC is shown on the claim notice. A protest must be filed within 10 days after the claim notice was mailed. If filed by mail, the U.S. postmark or private meter date is used to determine the date of filing. If there is both a postmark date and a private meter date, the postmark date is used. If there is no U.S. postmark or meter date, the date received by the DES will be the controlling date.

When filing a protest, the employer should provide all available facts regarding to the case, including relevant dates, information on payments such as holiday, vacation, WARN pay, pension, or etc. This will assure that all facts are considered by the deputy in making the determination. It also will permit the deputy to make a determination without taking up the employer′s time to secure a second statement.

The following summary gives the most common grounds for an employer protest and the documentation the deputy would need for each:

  1. If the claimant quit without good cause attributable to work:
    1. What the claimant said or did to indicate an intention to quit. If an individual simply failed to show up for work, make a statement to that effect giving the date last worked;
    2. Complaints made by the claimant concerning the work, requests for transfer to other work, or for leave of absence;
    3. Any statements by the claimant about the reason for leaving and future plans;
    4. The date(s) the claimant failed to report if called back after a temporary layoff;
    5. The date(s) the claimant failed to report if called back after sick leave, vacations, etc;
    6. The terms of any applicable retirement agreement according to a union contract or employer policy;
    7. If employer is a temporary help firm, did claimant contact the temporary help firm after assignment ended and prior to filing for UI benefits for reassignment? Was the claimant informed of the obligation to contact the employer upon completion of the assignment and that failure to do so may result in denial of benefits? If contact was made, give date of contact and result of contact;
    8. Any attempts the employer made to accommodate the claimant’s requests or to address any issues the claimant complained about;
    9. Any requests the employer made for documentation and the responses received from the claimant.
  2. If the claimant refused work:
    1. Evidence to show that the work offer was bona fide and was communicated to the claimant, including how the claimant was notified, type of work, rate of pay, hours of work, location of job, date to report, etc;
    2. Reason given by the claimant for refusing the offer and the date the job was refused;
    3. Any facts about the claimant that would help the claims deputy in deciding whether the individual was justified in refusing.
    4. If you have work available for this claimant, you may offer it at any time during the claimant′s BY. Contact the RCC serving your area or indicate on the claim notice and return to the address on the notice.
  3. If the claimant was discharged for drug and alcohol related issues:

    Section 288.045 of the Missouri Revised Statutes addresses discharges due to a positive drug and/or alcohol test and what is necessary to find misconduct under this section of the law.

  4. If the claimant was discharged for misconduct in connection with work:
    1. The date claimant was discharged.
    2. All incidents of unsatisfactory conduct that played a part in the disciplinary actions, such as warnings and reprimands, gross negligence, absenteeism, willful inefficiency, dishonesty, etc
    3. What was said to the former employee and what the employee said or did.
    4. The employer′s policy regarding the incident that led to discharge and how the claimant would have been aware of this policy.
  5. If the claimant is laid off for lack of work:

    You should not protest a claim based on a separation for this reason.

  6. If the claimant’s ability to work and availability to work is in question:
    1. Before UI benefits will be paid each week, the claims deputy must find that the claimant is able to work, available for work, and actively and earnestly seeking work.
    2. The requirement of making an active and earnest search for work may be waived for those individuals who are unemployed through no fault of his/her own and have a definite recall date within eight weeks of the first day of his/her unemployment. Employers may request in writing to extend the work search waiver for recall dates beyond eight weeks, but not to exceed 16 weeks. These requests will be granted at the discretion of the DES Director.
    3. Claimants are required to register as job applicants with the Division of Workforce Development and are thereby exposed to job orders that employers file.
  7. If there are payments for holiday, vacation, WARN, or pension:

    Holiday or vacation pay:

    1. Number of hours of holiday or vacation pay and amount of pay;
    2. Period pay will cover, if designated;
    3. Anticipated date holiday or vacation will be paid; and
    4. Normal pay dates.


    1. Period of time pay will cover;
    2. Amount of pay;
    3. Normal weekly or hourly rate of pay; and
    4. Normal number of hours worked each week.


    1. Amount of pension before deductions;
    2. When pension will start;
    3. Percentage of contribution to the pension fund by the employer; and
    4. Whether the wages (base period wages) used to establish the UI claim also were used in the calculation of the pension.

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What happens after an employer files a protest?

A deputy gathers all facts in regard to the claim and issues a determination showing whether the claimant is disqualified or eligible to receive UI benefits. A copy of this determination is mailed to the employer filing the timely protest. If the determination results in a denial of benefits to the claimant for any reason, the employer will be notified of the date the claimant becomes eligible.

When the deputy′s determination disqualifies a claimant as a result of separation from work or because of refusal to accept work with the employer, the account of a contributory employer will not be charged with any subsequent UI benefits paid the claimant based on wages paid prior to the date of the separation or job refusal. There is no account charge protection for reimbursable employers. They will be liable for all UI benefit payments.

A deputy′s determination involving only an eligibility issue does not relieve any employer′s account of benefit charges for weeks outside the specific ineligible period.

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Can an employer appeal a deputy’s determination?

If an employer disagrees with a determination, it may file an appeal. It also may appeal if it believes that the law was incorrectly applied or that all the facts were not considered when the determination was made. An appeal may be filed by any employee of a corporation, partnership, or other business entity authorized by law. An appeal also can be filed by a licensed attorney.

Appeal rights and time limits are explained on each determination. If an appeal is not filed within the time limit, the employer may lose its right to appeal. The time limits for filing can only be extended for "good cause." Generally, only circumstances beyond one’s reasonable control will be considered good cause for late filing.

After an appeal is filed, the Appeals Section will notify involved parties of the date, time, and method of the hearing. All interested parties taking part in the hearing will be allowed to provide sworn testimony. A written decision will be mailed to all interested parties after the hearing. The decision may affirm, reverse, modify, or remand the deputy′s determination.

If the employer is dissatisfied with the referee′s decision, it may carry the case through subsequent appeal stages to the Missouri Labor and Industrial Relations Commission and then to the courts for a final decision.

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What is a waiting week?

A claimant who is determined eligible for UI benefits must serve a waiting week before being paid benefits. Only one waiting week is required during the BY. After serving the waiting week, the claimant is paid UI benefits for subsequent weeks of total or partial unemployment if not disqualified and the deputy finds that all the eligibility requirements of the law have been met. The waiting week may be paid at the end of the regular UI claim.

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What is an overpayment?

If a claimant has received UI benefits and later receives legally required back pay for the same period, an overpayment results. If an overpayment is established under these circumstances, the employer is required to withhold the amount of the overpayment from the back pay. This amount then is paid to the DES by the employer. The employer should call the DES to find out the amount of the overpayment.

Example: A claimant is receiving UI benefits for the first three weeks of January 2009. A court determines that due to an existing contract, the claimant must receive his/her regular pay for those three weeks. The employer contacts the DES who determines what was paid out in UI benefits and the employer will withhold those amounts from the back pay to reimburse the DES for the overpayment as the claimant is not entitled to those benefits after the fact.

Overpayments also can result from claimants not reporting new earnings. The DES conducts a Benefit Payment Control program to detect and prevent improper payment (overpayment) of UI benefits. The primary means of detecting overpayments are cross-matches with new-hire data and quarterly wages reported for claimants by employers. When a match is made, the DES sends an Audit and Investigation form to the employer to confirm whether or not UI benefits were overpaid.

It is very important for an employer to complete and return the Audit and Investigation forms providing wages earned during each week the worker claimed UI benefits.

Overpayment of UI benefits can affect an employer′s tax rate. Benefits charged to the employer′s account as well as the balance of the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund are factors that can raise an employer′s tax rate. Employer taxes are deposited into the Trust Fund, from which UI benefits are paid. Claimants are required to pay back overpaid UI benefits, and payments are deposited back into the Trust Fund.

When the DES determines a claimant for UI benefits failed to report earnings, the claimant will be required to repay those benefits. Some overpayments are the result of honest mistakes. However, if the claimant committed fraud in obtaining benefits, he/she can be assessed an additional monetary penalty, as well as possibly having his/her benefit rights canceled and being arrested, fined, and imprisoned.

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What penalties can be assessed against employers?

A penalty may be assessed when an employer commits fraud by misrepresenting, misstating, or failing to disclose information in order to deny UI benefits. For a first occurrence of fraud, the amount of penalty is 25 percent of the amount of benefits denied. The amount of penalty goes up to 100 percent of the amount of benefits denied for subsequent occurrences of fraud.

An employer also can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine or imprisonment in the county jail for making a false statement or knowingly failing to disclose a material fact to prevent or reduce the payment of UI benefits.

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What is a Mass Claim?

The Electronic Mass Claims Filing System is available to employers during a temporary mass layoff. Employee information provided by the employer allows the DES to quickly and efficiently file initial and renewed UI claims on behalf of employees. This filing is available when at least 20 workers are totally unemployed. The temporary layoff cannot exceed eight consecutive weeks. For additional information, contact the UI Programs Section at 573-751-3641.

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What is the Shared Work Program?

The Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program is an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a reduction in available work. It allows an employer to divide the available work among a specified group of affected employees instead of a layoff. These employees receive a portion of their UI benefits while working reduced hours. To participate, an employer must complete an application for the affected unit within the company, and submit it to the DES for approval. Learn more.

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