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What do I need to know about the Washington Cares Fund?

October 4, 2021

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Effective January 1, 2022, the new Washington Cares Fund will go into effect, resulting in a new payroll tax for all W-2 eligible employees in Washington. This tax will be used to establish a pool to fund a long-term care benefit for Washingtonians who meet all eligibility requirements as spelled out by the law.  

There is a provision for employees to apply for an exemption to opt out of paying the tax if they have a pre-existing qualified long-term care plan in effect by November 1, 2021. You can apply for an exemption to opt-out from October 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022

Applying for an Exemption 

To apply for a permanent exemption, you must:  

  • Have purchased a qualifying private long-term care insurance plan before November 1, 2021
  • Be at least 18 years of age.  
  • Submit an exemption application to the Employment Security Department (ESD) here: by clicking the "Apply for an Exemption" button toward the bottom of the page.  

You can reference these instructions to create your SecureAccountWashingtion (SAW) account and apply for an exemption:   

What Happens Next?  

The Employment Security Department (ESD) will review your application and notify you if you're eligible for an exemption from WA Cares coverage. If your application is approved, you'll get an exemption approval letter from ESD, at which point you'll be:  

  • Expelled from the program with no option to re-enroll.  
  • Disqualified from accessing WA Cares benefits in your lifetime.  
  • Required to present your exemption approval letter to all current and future employers. If you fail to show your ESD approval letter, employers will withhold non-refundable WA Cares premiums.   

Approved exemptions will take effect the quarter after your application is approved. Please note: this means that if you are approved after January 1, 2021, you will be required to pay into the WA Cares Fund through the payroll tax. 

Please send your exemption approval to no later than December 15, 2021, for the payroll tax to not take effect on January 1, 2021. 

Need more info?  

  • Visit the Learn More page to read the Employment Security Department's frequently asked questions, including specific questions about exemptions.  
  • Email and a team member at the Employment Security Department will follow up with you.  
  • Call the Employment Security Department's WA Cares representatives at (833) 717-2273.