BUC - Employers Frequently Asked Questions

Attention Maine Unemployment Insurance Claimants!

The unemployment compensation benefit claims system (including our toll-free 800 number) will be unavailable due to maintenance from 5:00 PM on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 until 8:00 AM, Friday, November 16, 2018.

Plan to make your weekly certification for week ending 11/10/18 prior to 5:00 PM on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. The most complete and quickest way to do this is on the web at: https://reemployme.maine.gov/accessme/faces/login/login.xhtml

If you need to file an initial claim for unemployment benefits, please plan accordingly around our scheduled maintenance window. The quickest way to file your initial claim is on the web at: https://reemployme.maine.gov/accessme/faces/login/login.xhtml

If you have questions, or require assistance, please call toll free (800) 593-7660 (M-F, 8:00 AM - 12:30 PM). As a reminder, this number will not be available during our scheduled outage time, but you may still contact us via e-mail by visiting: https://www1.maine.gov/labor/contact/index.html and selecting the 'Unemployment' radio button and completing the form.

Unemployment Customer Service

Toll-Free: 1-800-593-7660

Submit an Online Inquiry: https://www1.maine.gov/labor/contact/index.html

Customer service is available Mon-Fri, 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

TTY/Relay for Deaf and hard of hearing: Maine relay 711

New Unemployment Insurance Tax System for Maine Employers in 2018

On December 6, 2017, the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL), Bureau of Unemployment Compensation (BUC) implemented the first phase of ReEmployME, a modernized replacement system for Maine’s unemployment insurance (UI) program. The first phase focused on the UI benefits claim filing and management.

The second phase of ReEmployME, Employer Services (ES) tax functionality, will begin implementation in August with Registration for new Maine employers. The main implementation of the new system is expected in early November 2018. Since the late ‘90’s, Maine Revenue Services (MRS) has performed some of the UI Tax business functions for MDOL BUC. The new UI Tax system will allow MDOL BUC to resume most of those business functions and provide an improved and modernized employer online experience.

One of our primary goals for ReEmployME Phase 2 is to provide Maine businesses with relevant information that may impact their business with DOL BUC. In the weeks to come, both MRS and MDOL will be providing links to FAQs and an online repository of communication statements.

Please visit the MDOL BUC Employer Services homepage for updates about the new ReEmployME tax system and how it will affect your business or call an Employer Services customer representative at (207) 621-5120 or toll free at (844) 754-3508. http://www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment/tax.shtml

For those employers that use a payroll processor or tax preparer, please provide them with a copy of this statement.

Unemployment: Changes to Work Search and Technical Support Line Availability

As of September 4, claimants who need help creating a ReEmployME account, have issues with their account, or who need to provide work search efforts for a weekly certification filed via the automated phone filing system, can call a Customer Service Representative between 8:00 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., Monday through Friday except state and federal holidays, at 207-623-6765. They may also call our regular 800 number at 1-800-593-7660 directly between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. for assistance with their ReEmployME account, to provide a work search to complete a claim previously filed on the automated phone filing system, or any other unemployment related questions.

Outside of these hours of availability, claimants may also contact us electronically via email by visiting https://www1.maine.gov/labor/contact/index.html . Select the radio button for Unemployment and complete the form presented.

Claimants and Employers have the same right to appeal an unemployment decision to grant or deny unemployment benefits under federal and state law. Our goal is that all appeals conclude with the parties feeling they had a fair opportunity to present their case.

Effective January 1, 2000, the taxable wage base for the State of Maine is $12,000. Wages earned by each employee in excess of $12,000 are not taxable.

If you acquire substantially all of the assets of a subject employer’s organization, business, or trade, you may be liable as a successor employer. As a successor, you acquire the experience rate of your predecessor. However, if you acquire the predecessor business out of bankruptcy (free and clear of liens), you will acquire the predecessor’s rate only if it is lower than the average employer rate. If not, you will be assigned the average employer rate.

Please complete a "Combined Application for Tax Registration". You must have Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to download the application by clicking on this link: https://www.maine.gov/labor/unemployment/publications/

Please be sure to fill out section #6 on the application. Section 1228 of Maine Employment Security Law addresses successor liability. If your predecessor has an outstanding unemployment insurance balance, you could be liable for that amount.

There are several reasons why you may have received a bill:

  • You may have remaining taxes due after a change in status, such as when you acquire another business.
  • You may have paid the wrong amount on your original bill or or made contributions at the wrong tax rate, and are being billed for the remaining amount.
  • You may have have submitted reports and/or payments that were late, incurring interest and penalties. Quarterly wage reports and contributions payments are due on or before these due dates: April 30, July 31, October 31, and January 31. If your reports or payments are received late, interest and/or penalties will be assessed to your account. Maine Revenue Service sends the first bill. Further notices come directly from the Bureau of Unemployment Compensation.

Currently, the interest rate is 6% per year and it is compounded monthly. If you are late in submitting wage reports and/or tax payments for a fraction of a month, you are charged interest for the entire month. You may submit a Waiver of Interest and Penalties for good cause. If it is determined that your late records or payments were caused by an unavoidable occurrence, then up to 75% of the interest accrued to your account may be canceled.

Contribution penalties accrue to your account when you are late in making unemployment contributions. Currently, the contribution penalty is 1% of the unpaid contributions due per month, up to a maximum of 25% of the amount unpaid.

Payroll penalties accrue to your account every quarter that you are late in submitting quarterly wage reports. Currently, the payroll penalty is $25 or 10% of the taxes due, whichever is greater.

If you submit a written request for a "Waiver of Interest and Penalties," the charges to your account may be waived for good cause. Your reasons for the request for a "Waiver of Interest and Penalties" should be outlined in your initial request.

Please send your request to:

  • Bureau of Unemployment Compensation
    47D State House Station 
    Augusta, ME 04333-0047 or fax it to (207) 287-3733 / TTY: Maine relay 711

You may appeal an unemployment tax bill within 30 days of the mailing date on the bill by writing to:

  • Division of Administrative Hearings
    30 State House Station
    Augusta, ME 04333-0030 or fax to (207) 287-5949

First, look at the amount due. If there is a minus sign after the amount, then this is a credit to your account. You may request a refund by calling us. If the amount due is positive, then you should call us and follow the procedures noted on the bill.

Yes. We welcome payment plans as a method to resolve delinquencies. Please call the Field Advisor and Examiner nearest you or an Unemployment Tax Representative listed in the phone listing.

If you or the person or company involved owes us back taxes, we are able to withhold any income tax refund, regardless of any payment plan. We have legal authority to offset and withhold money you owe for any outstanding bill from money being returned to you as a refund.

If your refund is greater than the amount of back taxes owed to us, then you will receive the remaining amount. Call us using the phone listing if you have further questions.

Yes. 26 M.R.S.A. 13 sec.1221 relates to employee leasing companies and their client companies. Under employee leasing agreements, the employee leasing company is responsible for meeting unemployment tax requirements. However, the client company will become liable for meeting unemployment tax requirements if the employee leasing company should not pay.

26 M.R.S.A. 13 sec. 1251 allows industries and certain businesses that operate for less than 26 weeks in a calendar year to be deemed "seasonal."  Seasonal businesses are required to file quarterly wage reports every quarter during the calendar year. 

For the quarters the seasonal business is not in operation, the employer should report zero wages.  When the State of Maine recognizes a business as seasonal, the seasonal business cannot be charged for unemployment benefit claims from former workers if the work performed by those employees was performed exclusively within the seasonal period of the business. See also Table of Seasonal Industries (Me. FX-33) and Seasonal Industries and Unemployment Benefits (Me. I-17).

When unemployment taxes remain unpaid after repeated attempts to collect, we can secure any interest you have in real property as a means of collection. Once the lien is paid in full along with any other delinquent costs, we will record a discharge at the Registry of Deeds in the appropriate county, which will clear your title.

26 M.R.S.A 13 sec.1221 concerns experience rates. Your individual experience rate is calculated each year after July 31, and takes into account all payments and charges made to your account before that date. Payments and charges applied to your account after that date will be calculated for the following year. Three variables are used to calculate your rate:

  1. Your three-year average taxable payroll
  2. The amount of benefits charged to your account in the past year
  3. The amount of taxes paid from July 1 of the previous year to July 31 of the current year

When any or all of these variables change, your rate can be affected. Please call us using the phone listing. However, if you acquire a business as a successor you inherit the experience rate of your predecessor. For more on successors, see Am I a successor? in this FAQ listing.

Accurate and up-to-date wage records are required each quarter in order to process claims for unemployment benefits. The wage information you provide allows us to match your records with those reported by the claimant. Wage records are a good check and balance system against former employees receiving benefits fraudulently.

A direct reimbursement employer can be either a governmental entity (Federal, State, County, Municipal government employers) or a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization (see Glossary for a definition of a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization) that is liable to pay unemployment insurance contributions.

These employers may choose not to pay quarterly unemployment contributions, but instead pay, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, all of the unemployment benefits awarded to a former worker.

S corporations must pay reasonable compensation to a shareholder-employee in return for services that the employee provides to the corporation before non-wage distributions may be made to the shareholder-employee. The amount of reasonable compensation will never exceed the amount received by the shareholder either directly or indirectly. 

The instructions to the Form 1120S, U.S. Income Tax Return for an S Corporation, state "Distributions and other payments by an S corporation to a corporate officer must be treated as wages to the extent the amounts are reasonable compensation for services rendered to the corporation." Several court cases support the authority of the IRS to reclassify other forms of payments to a shareholder-employee as a wage expense which are subject to employment taxes.