WA working residents to start paying into long-term care tax

Jun 26, 2023, 3:33 PM

Washington cares tax...

WA Capitol Building in Olympia (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

Those employed within Washington are about to see a new deduction coming from their pay starting July 1 as the state’s new long-term care tax will be funded, using about 58 cents from every $100 of said paychecks.

The WA Cares Fund is a universal benefit Washingtonians earn by contributing a small portion — 0.58% — of each paycheck to the fund in order to earn the long-term care benefit. The fund will give eligible residents a maximum of $36,000 for help with activities like bathing, medication management, mobility, and more. All full- and part-time workers are included in this tax, and everyone contributes at the same low rate, regardless of salary.

If a resident makes the Washington state median income of $50,000 a year, approximately $290 will be deducted annually as payment for the tax.

Long-term health care tax debated in WA Legislature

The state claimed the vast majority of Washington residents will receive more than they contribute over their lifetime.

Alejandra, a Washington resident from Colombia, would have been eligible for exemption, but she didn’t file an application before the June 1 deadline.

“I just feel terrible because I am not sure what’s going to happen,” Alejandra told KIRO Newsradio. “As I said, I have a work visa.”

Alejandra calculated the new tax will cost her an extra $300 a year — money she doesn’t have to spare.

“Dinner is going to be harder to find, groceries, everything,” Alejandra continued.

She and others can still apply, but if it’s sent and approved after Saturday, it means that money will continue to come out until the next quarter in October.

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Another resident, Luke Smith, told KIRO Newsradio his mother worked in hospice, so he’s okay paying whatever he can to help.

“Just seeing the struggles that people had with money and families abandoning them once they got to retirement age was really tragic, so I think that this is going to be fantastic to help people out as much as possible,” Smith said.

The WA Cares Fund cited that many medical organizations have projected seven in 10 Washingtonians over the age of 65 will need long-term services and support within their lifetimes. To access the benefits from the fund, Washington residents will have needed to contribute to the fund for at least 10 years without a gap of five or more consecutive years. There are additional pathways for those needing early access and those close to retirement age at the fund’s inception.

A permanent exemption is for veterans with a 70% or higher service-connected disability. Conditional exemptions are being implemented for workers who are a spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty U.S. armed forces member, or for those who work in Washington but live out of state or have a temporary non-immigrant visa.

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WA working residents to start paying into long-term care tax