State working to credit businesses that were overcharged for unemployment insurance

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Many New Mexico businesses believe they have overpaid into the state’s Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Terry Keene, owner of Artichoke Café, said the bill couldn’t have come at a worse time.

"I paid over 5% for each one, which is an amazingly high number, dollar number," he said. "Up to $7,000 or $8,000 when I usually pay $600 or $800. So, I understand that was a mistake."

The bill for businesses is based on how many of their former employees received unemployment benefits. In New Mexico, businesses were told their rates would not go up if an employee was laid off for pandemic-related reasons.

State Auditor Brian Colon looked into it the issue after he said a "good number of businesses" reached out, claiming to have been overcharged.

"This is really an issue, a concern, a problem and a mistake, and frankly it looks like the state of New Mexico’s leadership has taken responsibility for that and affirmatively identifying a solution and a path forward," Colon said.

The former secretary of Workforce Solutions suddenly stepped down in April, and Colon said Ricky Serna, who is running the department in the interim, has been working on the problem since he took over.

The New Mexico Chamber of Commerce said they have been told businesses will be credited for the amount they overpaid. They also should expect their rates to be recalculated.

"I have complete confidence in our governor and our legislature and Workforce Solutions to correct the situation and make it right again for all the employers in town," Keen said.

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions provided KOB 4 with the following statement:

“The Quarter 1 payment due date has been extended to May 31, 2021. Employers are still required to submit their Quarter 1 wage records to the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) on time to avoid a late penalty.

If an employer has already paid their Quarter 1 taxes and then receive an updated Tax Rate Notice reflecting a decrease in their rate, NMDWS will reimburse those employers for any overpayments made.” – Stacy Johnston, PIO Workforce Solutions