California Unemployment Compensation laws & HR compliance analysis

California Unemployment Compensation: What you need to know

Virtually all employers are covered by California’s Unemployment Insurance Code (CA Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 1 et seq.) and are therefore subject to the state unemployment insurance tax. The law's coverage extends to those that:
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• Employed one or more persons for some part of a day and paid wages over $100 in any quarter in either the current or preceding calendar year;
• Paid domestic servants cash wages of $1,000 or more in any quarter of the current or previous calendar year;
• In the movie, radio, or TV industry, assumed the legal obligation to pay wages from an employer for which work was performed under a union contract;
• Contracted for the creation of a specially commissioned work of authorship;
• Are subject to the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA);and
• Elect to be covered (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 675 et seq.).
The law excludes certain services from coverage, including, for example, services performed by:
• Students working for schools, colleges, or universities;
• Students working for work-study programs;
• Spouses of students working for the school;
• Consultants working as independent contractors offering personal services;
• Real estate agents;
• Licensed business opportunity, mineral, oil, gas, or cemetery brokers paid solely by commission;
• Student nurses;
• Hospital interns;
• Certain newspaper distributors (e.g., minors);
• Casual laborers; and
• Certain workers for religious organizations (Cal. Unemp. Ins. Code Sec. 621 et seq.).
Taxable wage base. For the current taxable wage base, visit The term “wages” includes:
• The reasonable value of any noncash remuneration;
• Commissions and bonuses; and
• Reported tips (

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