Gov. Inslee pushes back start of state’s long-term care tax

OLYMPIA, Wash.– Your paycheck might not look so different at the start of 2022 after all. At least, not because of the “Washington Cares Fund.”

On Friday, Governor Jay Inslee and other state leaders announced a delay in the new payroll tax which was set to start Jan. 1, 2022. The pause in implementation is so the legislature can “make refinements” to the new program before it starts.

“We need to give legislators the opportunity to make refinements to the bill. Therefore, I am taking measures within my authority and ordering the state Employment Security Department not to collect the premiums from this program from employers before they come due in April,” Inslee said in part in a statement. My actions mean that the state will not collect those funds until the Legislature sorts through these issues.”

While lawmakers work to make changes, employers won’t be penalized or have interest pile on for not withholding the taxes.

Inslee’s pause on the tax collections will only last through April 2022. However, legislators said they plan to vote and extent that delay for at least another year past that. So, we’re looking at a possible push back to 2023.

Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Inslee approved the Washington Cares Fund in 2019. It requires Washington workers to have a plan for long-term care.

Money from your paycheck can either go into the state’s new Washington Cares Fund or you can opt-out and buy private insurance.

But – it’s not as simple as it sounds.

Whether you make $20,000 or six figures, the state says you need to have a long-term care plan. If you want the state to take care of that plan, it will cost you. For example, if you make $35,000 per year, you will pay $16.92 a month or $203 a year. It is 58 cents for every $100 you make.

Then, starting in 2025, those who are eligible for benefits will be able to claim up to $36,500. That money can go toward things like assisted living, meal delivery, nursing care and transportation.

If you plan to retire in less than three years, you do not qualify for the help, even if you are paying the tax.

Last month, people who opposed the mandatory payroll tax filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court to put a stop to it. The suit, filed with the federal court for the Western District of Washington, was filed on behalf of three businesses in the state and six individuals.

You can find more information about the WA Cares Fund here.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.