SUTA. Negotiating away whats right?

· by Herb Dew

Herb is the CEO of HTI. He founded HTI in 1999 along with John Knight and David Sewell, and remains heavily involved in the organization today.
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As the debate over SUTA continues, the argument over tax relief and a % to give and HOW to give it continues. I have been active in the fight now since HTI was notified about recieving a 300% increase in our rates effective Jan. 1. As most people now know, there was NO notice of this prior to the letter sent out by SC DEW Jan. 31st. What amounts to the LARGEST business state tax increase in history was quietly introduced, passed and enacted as companies battled the state out of the worst economy since the depression.

The tax increase (which is sold as a tax cut for those employers who had “good performance”) was a two fold hit: the wage cap increased by 43% in 2011, and the new system enacted “tiers” that raised rates on 60% of employers between 40 and 600%.

The largest business tax increase in SC history.


Unplanned or unbudgeted by business.



So now we are at the final stages of fighting for tax relief. What began as a request for 40-50% relief has whittled down over time to “maybe 18%”. An olive branch. Hush money. Many of us have forgotten our central premise, “this increase will cost SC job growth”. An 18% discount from a 300% tax increase won’t reverse that position. We either believe the system is punitive and damaging…or we don’t. We either think that the increased taxes will hurt job growth and damage our ability to attract new companies to the state….or we don’t. We either think it is wrong and needs to be sharply corrected….or we don’t.

“But Herb, 18% is better than nothing!”. “We have to take what we can get!”. “Senator so and so is too powerful!”. etc. etc. etc.

I never engaged in this fight to “get a decrease”. I got in this fight because I thought that the entire approach was flawed. This is a band-aid enacted at a time of need that had far more consequences than were predicted.

18% is weak. an olive branch. Hush money.

I say fight on.

Herb Dew