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Former state lawmaker says Washington’s long-term care tax should be optional

(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Petitions are just hitting the streets, and the internet, to try to gather enough signatures to make changes to the state’s upcoming long-term care tax.

“The thing is just poorly put together from day one, and it’s mandatory,” said Cary Condotta, a former state representative.

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Condotta told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show that he thinks the tax, passed in 2019, should be optional, and he’s hoping to put that to a citizen vote. He’s one of the backers of the citizen-led initiative to stop the tax from going into effect.

“This has to go, and the only way to do that is through the initiative process right now because as long as the Democrats have control, they’re not going to turn it over,” he said.

“We intend to make it optional,” he added. “And we can do that through the initiative process with Initiative 1436.”

Unless a state resident has private, long-term care insurance by the end of October, most will have to pay the tax. All W2 employees who average 12.5 hours per week will start to see the deductions for a long-term care tax as of Jan. 1. A person earning $50,000 a year will pay $290 a year in additional taxes.

The benefits also include certain limits, including that it won’t move with you if you leave Washington.

“Even if you do qualify for the benefit in the end, which is questionable, it’s $36,000,” Condotta said. “In this day and age, that doesn’t get you very far in long-term care, probably about four to five months.”

“Then they’ll say, ‘Oh, well, the benefit’s not high enough, we’re going to have to increase the tax and increase the benefit.’ You can see the writing on the wall here,” he said.

People with their own long-term care policies can opt out, but those cost thousands of dollars a year. Those policies also need to be in place before the end of October, and insurance agents are saying you should apply by the end of this month to ensure coverage.

Condotta says, right now, it’s nearly impossible to get private insurance because companies are worried that people will sign up then cancel after the tax kicks in this coming January.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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