Rep. Paul sponsors long-term care tax exemption bill

State Rep. Dave Paul’s bill would allow some exemptions to the Washington Cares Act.

Two bills meant to improve the Washington Cares Act passed the House Appropriations Committee with bipartisan support Jan. 13.

The Washington Cares Act, passed in 2019, will implement a new payroll tax to fund long-term care for state residents. Under the act, Washington workers will pay a 0.58% earned tax into the Washington Cares Fund. Workers who had contributed for at least 10 years would be eligible to withdraw up to $36,500 for long-term care such as hearing aids and nursing home stays.

House Bill 1733, sponsored by state Rep. Dave Paul (D-Oak Harbor), would allow certain individuals to voluntarily exempt themselves from contributing to the fund. Exemption eligible groups include veterans with at least 70% service-connected disability, spouses or partners of active duty military personnel, people who work in Washington state but live elsewhere and people working in the U.S. under a temporary, nonimmigrant work visa.

Premium collection is slated to begin in April, but another Democrat-sponsored bill would delay implementation until 2023 to extend benefits to a larger group of people.

Paul said both bills will allow the Washington Cares Act to be implemented in a way that optimizes benefits for more Washington residents.

“Seniors, disabled individuals, and their families should not be compelled to spend down their savings, go bankrupt, or sell their homes in order to pay for long-term care,” he wrote in an email. “More Washingtonians will be able to get the care they need to stay in their homes longer as a result of these improvements to the WA Cares Act, which is better for everyone.”