WA – CARES Fund Delayed

Two weeks ago, Governor Inslee and state legislative leaders released a statement saying they would delay implementation of the premium assessment for the WA Cares Fund while they seek to make changes to it during the upcoming legislative session.

Inslee notes, “…legislators have identified some areas that need adjustments and I agree. We need to give legislators the opportunity to make refinements to the bill. Therefore, I am taking measures within my authority and ordering the state Employment Security Department not to collect the premiums from this program from employers before they come due in April. My actions mean that the state will not collect those funds until the Legislature sorts through these issues. While legislation is under consideration to pause the withholding of LTC fees, employers will not be subject to penalties and interest for not withholding fees from employees’ wages during this transition.”

However, the statements did not call for an immediate change to the underlying agency rule which specified that employers would be liable if they failed to collect the new payroll tax that is set to take effect in January.

The governing rule for the long-term care program is WAC 192-910-015, which states in part:
(2) When an employer is found by the department to be noncompliant with collecting premiums from an employee, the employer must file an amended report and pay the past-due premiums.

As a result, the existing rule, with its employer liability, remains the law. Without a change in the rule, the employers’ liability still exists, despite public statements by policymakers.

TPM continues to monitor this issue.