Employer duties for exempt employees under WA Cares tax

Jun 1, 2023
Written by WR Communications

WA Cares Fund logo


The legislature has provided conditional exemptions under WA Cares (Washington’s long-term healthcare tax) for certain eligible employees. Both employers and employees should be aware of their respective responsibilities related to these exemptions.

Employee responsibilities: Applications for conditional exemptions under WA Cares are available. It is the employee’s responsibility to apply for an exemption if they wish to do so and to notify their employer of any changes to exemption status. Failure to do so may cause back-payment of premiums and penalties. Workers eligible for WA Cares exemptions must apply by today, June 1, to avoid paycheck deductions starting in July.

Employer responsibilities: Once employees submit a copy of their exemption approval letter from the Employment Security Department (ESD), employers:

  • Must keep a copy of the approval letters on file
  • May not deduct WA Cares premiums for exempt workers

Approval letters from ESD will list the effective date of the exemption. Employers may use these links to access the employer tool kit and other communication materials.

Exemption pathways: Employees are eligible for exemptions from WA Cares if any of the following apply:

  • Live outside of Washington
  • Are the spouse or registered domestic partner of an active-duty service member of the U.S. armed forces
  • Have non-immigrant work visas
  • Are veterans with a 70% service-connected disability rating or higher

Workers will no longer qualify for an exemption if their conditions change, except for the veteran’s exemption, since a 70% or higher disability rating is considered a permanent exemption.


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