Understanding Your Wyoming Base Period Earnings
Before you can calculate your Wyoming federal unemployment benefits, you will need to understand the concept of a “base period.” An unemployment insurance base period consists of four of the last five calendar quarters you worked, and only your earnings from this time period will be factored in when calculating benefits. For example, if you file in July, your base period will extend from March of the previous year to February of the current year. According to state law, you can only claim unemployment benefits for up to 26 weeks, and once this time ends, you will need to wait until the next benefit year to file a claim. A benefit year consists of 52 consecutive weeks, and if you exhaust your benefits during this time, you will not be able to file for an unemployment benefits extension, even if you have funds left on your claim.
Working and Claiming Benefits in Wyoming
While claiming benefits for unemployment in Wyoming, you are allowed to work part-time, as long as you work less than 35 hours a week. You will be responsible for reporting weekly earnings, tips, and other wages during the week you work, not the week you are scheduled to be paid. Each week starts on Sunday and ends on Saturday, and you will need to report all of your hours to the department. When reporting your part-time income, remember to provide information about your gross pay (your pay before taxes). You can find out your gross pay by multiplying your hourly pay rate by the number of hours you work. However, you will not receive federal unemployment benefits in WY if:
• Your wages are equal to or greater than your weekly benefit amount.
• You reduce your hours so that you can still collect unemployment.
• You work more than 35 hours a week.
Please note that even if you find part-time employment, the state will still expect you to look for full-time work and make two contacts a week while claiming benefits for unemployment.
Paying Taxes on Your Wyoming Unemployment Benefits
If you claim unemployment benefits in Wyoming, the federal government will expect you to pay taxes on them. The Internal Revenue Service considers federal unemployment benefits “taxable income” and requires all unemployed workers to report their earnings. If you feel comfortable making payments on your own, you are allowed to make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS. You will be responsible for estimating the amount of tax you owe on your federal unemployment benefits, and paying four times during the year. If you underestimate the amount you owe, you will have to pay the difference the following April. If your quarterly taxes are late, you will be subject to a penalty from the IRS.
While claiming benefits for unemployment in WY, you may also choose to have a specific amount withheld from each weekly payment. This is an easy way to ensure that you do not owe during tax time, and most jobseekers elect to have at least 10 percent of their weekly benefits withheld by the government.
Continued Eligibility in Wyoming
If you continue to claim unemployment benefits in Wyoming, you will need to be sure that you meet the eligibility standards on a weekly basis. The state can request an audit of your unemployment benefits claim at any moment, so you will want to ensure that you are doing the following each week.
• Using accurate and truthful information to file your claims.
• Available to work if offered a job.
• Actively looking for full-time employment.
• Reporting all wages from part-time employment.
• Willing to accept suitable work.
• Physically and mentally capable of performing work.
You will also need to record your work search efforts and browse jobs on the department website every 90 days.
If you are offered full-time employment, it is your responsibility to report the offer to the state. If you decline suitable work, the state has the right to deny your WY unemployment benefits claim if you cannot provide a reasonable explanation for your actions. All workers are encouraged to find work as soon as possible, and failing to accept suitable work may be viewed negatively by the department.