Initiative to roll back Washington long-term care tax qualifies for ballot

An initiative that would look to make Washington’s long-term care tax optional for everyone across the state will go in front of voters later this year.

The tax went into effect in July of 2023, levying a 0.58% payroll tax on Washington workers. For someone who makes $50,000 annually, it adds up to around $290 a year. For someone pulling in $150,000, it costs $870 annually.

For those who are eligible, it provides a lifetime benefit of $36,500 to offset the costs of long-term care. It’s designed to pay for meals, transportation, wheelchairs, and scooters. It can also be used to pay a family member to provide care.

The tax has also faced backlash since it was implemented, particularly from Republicans in the state legislature who had pushed for a bill to make it fully optional last year.

Initiative 2124 will look renew that effort, after garnering enough signatures to get onto the November 2024 ballot in Washington. If approved, it would allow anyone to opt out of the tax at any time.

Prior to its implementation, Washingtonians were given a window of time to opt out if they had bought their own private long-term care insurance policy, or if they met any of a handful of qualifications.

I-2124 would allow exemptions without any conditions.