Long-Term Care and Support Tax
Washington State House Bill 1087 which passed in 2019 established the new Long-Term Care and Supports Trust Program to help with in-home care or assisted living expenses when an individual is unable to care for themselves. The program will be funded through a payroll tax or “premium” of 0.58% of gross income paid by the employee. Employers will be required to begin this payroll deduction from employees’ gross pay beginning January 1, 2022. From the employer side, many of the logistical parts of the new program have not been finalized, but here is what is known about the program at the moment.
What the Program Provides
The Long-Term Care and Supports Trust Program provides a maximum of 365 benefit units to qualified individuals. Benefit units will be paid at $100 per day meaning a lifetime benefit of $36,500. The $100 per day will be adjusted annually at no greater than the Washington state consumer price index. Benefit units cover long-term services and supports including, but not limited to: adult day services, care transition coordination, memory care, home delivered meals, in-home personal care, and assisted living services. Benefits do not begin until January 1, 2025.
Who Qualifies for Benefits
A qualified individual under the program is an individual who has paid the long-term services and supports premiums for the equivalent of either:
- A total of ten years without interruption of five or more consecutive years; OR
- Three years within the last six years from the date of application for benefits
In addition to paying the long-term services and supports premiums for the periods above, in order to qualify for benefits an individual must:
- Have worked at least five hundred hours for each of the years required above,
- Reside in the state of Washington,
- Meet the minimum level of assistance with activities of daily living
- Have not exhausted the lifetime limit of benefit units
Ability for Employees to Opt Out of Program
The legislation gives individuals the ability to opt out of the program if they demonstrate they have long-term care insurance. The original legislation did not provide details on this process, but HB 1323, if passed in the current session of the legislature, provides clarity. An employee who wishes to apply for an exemption from the program must:
- Attest they have long-term care insurance purchased before the effective date of the act (Employment Security Department (ESD) is not required to verify)
- Apply with ESD from October 1, 2021 through December 31, 2022
ESD has not yet released information on the application process. Employees eighteen years or older may apply. Approved exemptions will not be effective until the first day of the quarter immediately following the approval, and the employee is not entitled to refunds for premiums collected before the effective date. Exempt employees must provide current and future employers written notification of an approved exemption and will not be entitled to a refund for premium deductions made before notification is provided to the employer. Employers must retain written notifications of exemptions received from employees. It is important to note that an individual who applies for and receives an exemption can never qualify for benefits in the future.
There are certain individuals who may wish to opt out of the program and purchase an individual policy:
- Individuals who do not plan on retiring in Washington State and therefore will not be able to receive the benefit.
- Individuals, particularly higher wage earners, who may be able to find better, more competitive long-term care insurance plans compared to what they would be paying for under the state plan.
- Individuals who plan on retiring in less than 10 years and would most likely not receive the benefit.
Reporting and Premium Remittance
The long-term care taxes will be remitted to ESD. Although ESD has not released any information on its website, it is likely that the long-term care tax will be treated similarly to unemployment and paid family medical leave with reporting and tax remittance occurring quarterly.
The GOVERNMENTAL ACCOUNTING STANDARDS BOARD (GASB) ISSUES EXPOSURE DRAFT EXAMINING COMPENSATED ABSENCES PROJECT NO. 4-7
The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is accepting public comments on three reporting standards changes which will have an impact on the preparation of financial statements for state and local governments comments will be accepted through June 4, 2021. The Professional Rules and Operational Standards Committee will be having a meeting in late April reviewing the exposure draft and the potential impacts to statement preparers. If you are interested in participating please contact the PROS chair Bret Brodersen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GASB Proposes Changes that will Impact Washington Financial Statement Preparation
The Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) is accepting public comments on three reporting standards changes which will have an impact on the preparation of financial statements for state and local governments.
GASB Draft reporting model improvements Project 3-25
GASB Revenue and Expense Recognition 4P-6
GASB Recognition of Elements of Financial Statements Project 3-20
Finance staff are encouraged to review the proposed changes and provide comments to the GASB by the February 26 deadline.
Below is a letter template that can be used to respond to GASB.