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How to Opt Out of the Washington Cares Fund

Updated: Feb 8, 2022

Note: The Washington Cares Fund program has been postponed for changes to be implemented and will not begin until July 2023.

If you have long-term care insurance clients in Washington, you’re going to want to read this. These instructions were adapted from the WA Cares Fund Exemptions page.

Make Sure You Qualify

First, make sure your clients qualify to opt out of this 0.58% payroll tax on W2 employees in Washington. In order to qualify for an exemption from this program, you must:

It’s also good practice to understand the full implications of opting out of the program, listed here.

Steps for Opting Out

To opt out of the WA Cares program, a client must submit an exemption application to the Employment Security Department (ESD) sometime between October 1, 2021 and December 31, 2022. The ESD will not accept applications after December 31, 2022 (this date has been extended from the original December 31, 2021 date - see the WA Cares FAQ here).

The fund has compiled instructions for submitting an exemption application here. In essence, you need to:

  • Login to or create a SecureAccess Washington account

  • Add “Paid Family and Medical Leave” as a new service

  • Continue and create a WA Cares Exemption account (at the bottom)

Wait for an Approval and Next Steps

If you are approved, you will be exempted from the program for eternity and disqualified from receiving the WA Cares’ whopping $36,500 of benefits. You will also be required to present the exemption approval letter to all present and future employers, so make sure to keep this in a safe place. If you don’t present the letter to employers, you will be on the hook for the payroll tax.

According to the WA Cares website, the exemption should take effect the quarter after application approval.


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