Applying for the WA Cares Tax Exemption

Instructions for individuals employed within the state of Washington who wish to opt-out of the WA Cares tax, which will begin being deducted from paychecks as of January 1, 2022.

Editorial Note as of Jan. 28, 2022: State lawmakers have officially delayed implementation of the WA Cares long-term care program until July 1, 2023. For now, the state will not collect the payroll tax, although we still recommend that individuals who have already purchased long-term care insurance maintain their policies. We will continue to monitor updates to this legislation and will communicate key updates via our newsletter and social channels. Read more about this latest news from the Seattle Times.

Applying for exemption is fairly simple, but you will want to do this ASAP, as soon as you get confirmation of your policy or if you have paid your premium. The exemption application does not ask for proof of insurance, but indicates they can audit and ask you at any point later.

Know before you begin: the exemption website is out intermittently so if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

To Apply for Exemption from the new tax:

  1. Make sure you have a scanned copy of your government issued ID (driver’s license, passport, green card, etc.) available for upload.
  2. To begin you will need an account with Secure Access Washington (SAW). If you don’t have an account, you can create one by selecting the SIGN-UP button toward the right of your screen. If you already have a SAW account, login. (Tip: If you ever filed for unemployment or any claim with a WA State agency, you likely have an account.)
  3. Once you log into your SAW account, click on the ADD A NEW SERVICE button. 
  4. Select the second column “I would like to browse a list of services by name.”
  5. Scroll down to “Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)”and click “Apply”.
  6. You should then be taken back to the Home page where you can click “Access Now” for the “Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) by Employment Security Department”.
  7. Click on “Continue” to proceed with creating an account.
  8. Select the button next to “WA Cares Exemption” and follow the instructions.
  9. Enter your age, Social Security Number, and confirm all the applicable checkboxes.
  10. Upload a picture of your ID.
  11. Confirm all the dialogs – Done!

Once complete your application will be submitted for review and you will receive a status update. If accepted, a letter will be provided electronically that you can download and submit to the HR/Payroll department at your workplace. (You should receive a paper copy in the mail as well.)

IMPORTANT: Your employer cannot withhold the tax unless they have received a copy of the State exemption letter. Time is of the essence if you already have private long-term care coverage and wish to avoid being unnecessarily taxed come January 1st (any taxes collected prior to exemption will not be refunded).

For more information about the WA Cares Fund, see our recent content:

If you have questions about WA Cares, long-term care insurance, or any other planning questions, please don’t hesitate to call. We're always happy to help at Comprehensive Wealth Management. 

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