WA Cares Fund HB 1732 and HB 1733 Updates

On January 27, 2022 Governor Inslee signed HB 1732 and HB 1733, House Bills which provide changes to the WA Cares Fund initiative. HB 1732 delays the WA Cares Fund tax until July 1, 2023, and WA Cares Fund benefits will be available beginning July 1, 2026. It also allows those nearing retirement (born prior to 1968) to receive partial benefits even if they are not fully vested. Workers will begin contributing to the fund through a payroll tax premium beginning July 2023. If you have collected WA Cares Fund tax premiums from your employee paychecks in Q1 of 2022 this bill also requires that employers refund employees.

Under HB 1733 workers who live out of state but work in Washington, as well as military spouses, workers on non-immigrant visas, and certain veterans with disabilities, are able to opt-out of the program if they choose.

To assist with the changes from HB 1732 and HB 1733 the Washington ESD has updated their WA Cares Fund website with additional instructions for employers. First and foremost, if you are withholding the WA Cares Fund premium from employee paychecks you will need to stop the withholding from any further checks. Employers will need to reimburse employees for deducted WA Cares Fund premiums within 120 days of the date premiums were collected.

For those employees who purchased a private insurance policy employers will want to maintain copies of the exemption approval letters. If an employee who has a private policy has not yet applied for an exemption with the State they should do so as soon as possible, but no later than December 31, 2022. It is important to note that as of now the date for having a private policy has not changed, to qualify for an exemption it would have to be in place prior to November 1, 2021. Should an individual cancel their private policy due to the change in start date for the WA Cares Fund there is no guarantee they will be able to purchase a private policy that will meet the exemption requirements.