By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff
Because H-2A and J-1 visa workers perform agricultural services that constitute "covered agricultural employment" under Minnesota law, the wages a farm paid to H-2A and J-1 visa workers performing those services were subject to unemployment insurance taxation. A vegetable farm employed H-2A and J-1 visa holders exclusively and never paid unemployment insurance taxes on those wages. The Department audited the employer’s records, concluding that it owed $154,726 in taxes. According to the state supreme court, the plain language of the federal definitions of “agricultural labor” require only that “employees” or workers “in the employ of” an individual perform certain types of agricultural services. The visa workers were employees, they were in the employ of the farm, and they performed services that fell within the federal definitions of agricultural labor. Thus, the visa workers whose wages were at issue in this case performed covered agricultural employment as that phrase is defined under Minnesota law. The appellate court's decision was affirmed (Svihel Vegetable Farm, Inc. v. DEED, Minn. Sup. Ct., No. A17-1250, June 12, 2019).
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