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Legislation Provides Relief to Washington Employers Facing Higher Rates Due to Pandemic


Washington employers will see some relief from increasing unemployment tax rates thanks to Senate Bill 5061 which was recently signed by the Governor.  The changes are expected to go into effect for taxes paid for the first quarter of 2021, due in April.

Washington unemployment tax rates are based on a combination of factors including the employer’s past layoff history and the state’s unemployment history and fund solvency.  Rates were set to increase due to pandemic-related layoffs, and thus cost employers nearly $1 billion more in 2021 from the prior year according to Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD).

This legislation reduces certain portions of the total rate calculations including limiting the social surcharge maximum rate and suspending the solvency surcharge through 2025.  It also increases certain benefits paid to unemployed individuals during the pandemic.

Due to these recent changes, ESD anticipates it may take some time to recalculate employer’s rates under the new law.  Current information can be found on ESD’s website or by contacting your payroll provider.


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