Washington’s new long-term care tax faces backlash

Many Washingtonians received their first paychecks affected by the new long-term care tax.

While the deduction may seem small at 0.58%, critics argue it adds up over time. Washington State residents who pay the tax for a decade are eligible to collect a one-time payment of $36,500. However, if they move out of state, they lose out. State Representative Peter Abbarno has a problem with that.

“It’s really an unfair program,” said Rep. Abbarno. “It’s not portable, you retire out of state you don’t get to take it with you. If you die it doesn’t become an asset that you can pass onto a spouse or a family member.”

Rep. Abbarno is among the list of local Republicans pushing to change course. Some of his colleagues are advocating for a special session or to repeal the tax altogether.

Cowlitz County mom and teacher, Lisa Mathes says she’d rather focus on saving for retirement and growing wealth.

“With the cost of inflation that’s going on, the rise in gas prices, it’s a struggle,” said Mathes. “It’s just mindboggling to me that the state would add another tax to our paycheck.”

Destry Witt, developer of Emerald City Enhanced Services in Lakewood spent decades working in finance and senior housing. According to Witt, a typical memory care stay lasts between six and eight months.

“Right now, $36,000 is not going to go very far in a memory care facility,” said Witt. “You’d be lucky if you get three or four months.”

Witt acknowledges the program is not politically palatable, however, he sees this added cost as a step in the right direction.

“It’s an opportunity for people who might not have means to save some money, put some money aside for what we know are needs that they’re going to have when they’re not working anymore,” said Witt. “I do believe two years from now, four years from now, 10 years from now it’ll be a much better program.”