Statement of benefit charges FAQ

What are benefit charges?
A. They are unemployment benefits that we paid to your former employees.

Q. How do they affect my tax rate?
A. For most employers, tax rates increase when more unemployment benefits are charged to your account. Current law requires us to determine your benefit ratio and tax rate by taking the benefits charged against your account for the past four years, and dividing by your reported wages.

Q. How do I know when I have benefit charges?
A. Normally, we mail you a Statement of Benefit Charges at the end of each quarter in which you have benefit charges. During 2020, we also sent monthly statements. The statements tell you that one or more of your former employees has drawn unemployment benefits. Examine the document to make sure the individual listed is your former employee. If you agree with the claim, simply keep the form for your records. To report fraud, visit and follow the instructions in the Employers section.

Q. Is the statement a bill?
A. No. The charges/credits listed on the statement will be used to calculate your future tax rates. 

If you are a reimbursable employer (e.g., government agency or some non-profits), you will receive a separate billing statement.

Q. How do I know if I qualify for relief of benefit charges?
A. You may qualify to have the benefit charges removed (which we call "relief of charges") if your employee's separation was due to one of the following reasons:

  • Voluntarily quit, and you did not cause the quit
  • Was discharged for misconduct or gross misconduct connected with the work
  • Was laid off as a direct result of a catastrophe, such as fire, flood or other natural disaster
  • Continues working for you on a regularly scheduled, permanent, part-time basis, but is no longer employed by another base-year employer that he or she worked for while also working for you
  • Continues working for you on a permanent, part-time basis and the worker qualifies for two consecutive unemployment claims
  • Was laid off after being hired to replace a activated military reserve or guard member when the military person is deactivated and returns to work

How can I request relief of benefit charges? 
A. Send a written request within 30 days of receiving your Statement of Benefit Charges. You may write on the front of the Notice to Base-Year Employer form and include any other supporting documentation (e.g., resignation letter). Mail or fax the request to: 

Employment Security Department 
Registration & Rates Unit 
PO Box 9046 
Olympia WA 98507-9046 
Fax: 800-301-1796

Q. Who do I call if I have more questions?
A. Contact the Experience Rating/Benefit Charging Unit at 855-829-9243 or email the 

Experience Rating/Benefit Charging Unit at

Q. What happens to my request?
A. We use information provided by the employer and claimant to determine whether to grant or deny relief of benefit charges.

Q. What is a base year?
A. A base year consists of the first four of the last five completed quarters prior to the date the individual applied for benefits. 

An applicant's earnings during this four-quarter period helps determine the maximum amount of unemployment benefit the individual can receive. 

We also can look at an alternative base year (the most-recent four quarters) if an applicant didn't work enough hours in the regular base year to qualify for unemployment.

Q. How long can a claim stay open?
A. A regular claim lasts one calendar year, starting at the effective date of the claim. That means the claimant has one year to collect all benefits available as part of that claim.