Washington delays payroll tax for residents' long-term care benefit

Washington's first-in-the-nation law creating long-term care benefits for residents who pay into a state fund won't start payroll deductions until 2023 after a retooling this year, according to Kaiser Health News.

The WA Cares program was signed into law in 2019 and was set to begin collecting money in January via a mandatory payroll tax on workers, according to the report. The collection date was delayed after state lawmakers made adjustments to the program.

Benefits will be available starting in July 2026, according to the program's website.

Washington workers will pay up to 58 cents per $100 earned into the program, according to its website. Those eligible can receive benefits of up to $36,500 over their lifetime.

Workers can get an exemption if they had private long-term care insurance, according to Kaiser Health News. Because the deductions aren't capped based on income, wealthier people may be better off with private long-term insurance, according to the report.

About 473,000 workers have taken the one-time offer to opt out of the program, according to the report.

Some people have criticized the program because they would be required to pay into it without being able to receive benefits, according to the report. The state legislature made changes this year that allow more groups to opt out. That includes workers who live out of state, workers on nonimmigrant visas and military spouses. Veterans with a 70 percent or higher service-connected disability can also opt out.

An additional 264,000 people from those groups may be eligible to opt out, according to the report.

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