Gov. Inslee: ‘May be possible’ to delay long-term care tax while lawmakers work through issues

Dec 3, 2021, 12:20 PM | Updated: Dec 6, 2021, 11:38 am
Jay Inslee, reopen, vaccine requirements, long term care tax...
Governor Jay Inslee speaks before a crowd in Tukwilla, WA.

With a controversial long-term care tax set to take effect at the start of the new year, Gov. Jay Inslee now says that he is working with state lawmakers to discuss the possibility of postponing its implementation.

Washingtonians create petition against long-term care tax

Under 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 deadline to opt out of the program was Nov. 1, but that process was contingent on having a separate private long-term care insurance policy.

Leading up to that November deadline, state leaders acknowledged that none of the 12 companies authorized to sell private long-term care insurance were offering new policies, effectively blocking Washingtonians from accessing the necessary means to opt out of the tax.

Several state lawmakers and business groups have since called on Inslee to pause the tax to provide time for legislators to address these issues. A class action lawsuit seeking to stop the tax from taking effect was also filed in Western Washington district court in early November.

While the governor has consistently contended that he lacks the authority to “unilaterally” stop the tax from taking effect, he spoke this week about potentially collaborating with legislators to find a workaround.

Vancouver woman warns public to be careful choosing long-term care insurance

“I am talking about other options to accomplish that end, and I think that may be possible,” Inslee said during a Thursday press conference.

That would likely require him to call a special session of the Legislature before Jan. 1, although he did indicate that there’s a chance he could delay the tax’s implementation without the need for a legislative session while lawmakers “make refinements” in the interim. His office is in the process of assessing possible legal avenues to pursue that option as well.

Lawmakers are currently scheduled to gather for their regularly scheduled 60-day legislative session starting on Jan. 1, 2022.

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Gov. Inslee: ‘May be possible’ to delay long-term care tax while lawmakers work through issues