January 14 , 2022 - Emily Makings

SB 5873 would lessen some of the impact of two payroll tax increases

In a policy brief last year, we wrote about how UI taxes work and how they were increasing due to the pandemic. The UI tax rate is made up of three taxes, including a social tax. The social tax is based on the amount by which systemwide benefits exceed systemwide revenue. Generally, the amount of […]

January 12 , 2022 - Emily Makings

Long-term care program solvency would improve with 18-month delay, but the premium rate would still need to be higher than 0.58%

Yesterday the Appropriations Committee heard HB 1732 and HB 1733. HB 1732 would delay the state’s long-term care (LTC) program by 18 months and make individuals born before 1968 eligible for the program if they pay premiums for at least a year (benefits would be prorated). HB 1733 would add voluntary exemptions for veterans with […]

December 03 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Could the long-term care tax be delayed for a year?

The Seattle Times reports that Gov. Inslee and Senate Democrats are talking about delaying the long-term care payroll tax. Senate Democratic leadership sent the governor a letter on Wednesday asking him to delay the tax until Jan. 1, 2023. Under current law, the tax is scheduled to begin Jan. 1, 2022. A lawsuit was filed […]

November 12 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Lawsuits filed over long-term care program and document recording fee surcharge

Lawsuits have been filed over the state’s long-term care program (for which premiums will be paid beginning in January) and a document recording fee surcharge enacted this year (to provide funds for housing programs). Long-Term Care A class action lawsuit asks a federal court to find the long-term care program “unlawful and unenforceable under ERISA, […]

November 03 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Paid family and medical leave premiums will increase in 2022; this is one of several expected payroll tax increases for next year

According to the Employment Security Department (ESD), premiums for paid family and medical leave will increase to 0.6% beginning Jan. 1, 2022. The premium for this program is paid on gross wages up to the Social Security cap ($147,000 in 2022). The rate can range from 0.1% to 0.6%; if the balance ratio is sufficiently […]

November 02 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Washington continues to have the nation’s highest workers’ compensation benefit costs

The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI) reports that workers’ compensation benefit costs per covered worker in Washington were $777.33 in 2019 (up from $769.52 in 2018). This is the highest in the country; the second highest was California, with $713.52 benefits per covered worker. Washington’s workers’ compensation benefit costs are also high as a […]

October 14 , 2021 - WRC

New brief: Should Washington Be in the Long-Term Care Insurance Business?

Key dates for Washington’s long-term care insurance program—and its accompanying payroll tax—are fast approaching. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, a payroll tax of 0.58% will be levied on every employee’s wages. The tax is expected to generate revenues of more than $1 billion a year. Long-term services and supports trust (LTSST) benefits will then be available […]

September 30 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Washington’s minimum wage will increase by 5.8% in 2022

According to the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), the state minimum wage will be $14.49 per hour in 2022. This is an increase of 5.8% over 2021’s minimum. Washington’s minimum wage has been indexed to inflation since voters approved Initiative 688 in 1998. Aside from substantial step increases to the minimum in 2017 and […]

September 21 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Average workers’ compensation rates could go up 3.1% next year—the largest increase since 2011

Today the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) proposed increasing average workers’ compensation rates by 3.1% for 2022. According to L&I, base rates will increase for 230 of the state’s 325 risk classes (here are the proposed rates by risk class). If the rate increase is adopted later this year, it will be the first […]

September 01 , 2021 - Emily Makings

Court of Appeals: Washington’s method of determining prevailing wages is unconstitutional

The state Court of Appeals has held that the method Washington uses to determine prevailing wages for public works projects is unconstitutional. As defined in state law, the prevailing wage is “the rate of hourly wage, usual benefits, and overtime paid in the locality . . . to the majority of workers, laborers, or mechanics, […]