For taxable employers: An opportunity to offset some of your benefit charges


A state law passed March 2020 allots $25 million to the COVID-19 Unemployment Account. The law applies only to taxable employers (those who pay unemployment taxes).

Taxable employers: You can apply to have this account offset some of your benefit charges instead of charging them to your experience rating.

The offset is not a refund or reimbursement. You can apply to offset your benefit charges from the first two quarters of 2020, which might reduce your 2021 tax rate. The application deadline is Sept. 30, 2020.


How the offset program works

To determine the amount of your offset, we will use a formula that includes your qualifying benefit charges in the first and second quarters of 2020, the amount of money in the COVID-19 Unemployment Account and the total amount of benefit charges in all the applications we approve. 

A larger total of benefit charges from all applications will result in a smaller offset amount for each qualifying employer. The offset amount will vary depending on how the formula affects your tax rate class. For some, the offset will have little to no effect on your tax rate.

Who is eligible

You must meet ALL these criteria:

• You pay unemployment taxes, rather than reimbursing the Employment Security Department for the cost of benefits paid to your former employees.
• You have an active account with the Employment Security Department.
• You were required to close or severely curtail business operations due to a state or federal Executive Order adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
• You have submitted all quarterly reports by September 30, 2020, including the second quarter of 2020.
• You have paid all contributions, penalties and interest by September 30, 2020, or are currently on an approved payment plan.

Preparing to apply

Documents you might need to complete the application:

• Your 2020 first and second quarter Statement of Benefit Charges.
• Any documents that show you re-employed staff who were laid off due to COVID-19.
• 2020 first and second quarter payroll documents.

You don’t need to submit documentation with your application to prove that you’re eligible. However, we might ask you for them.

How to apply

1. Refer to your August Statement of Benefit Charges. Separate from your list of employees the names of those with benefit charges eligible for relief. Those charges are not eligible for the offset. Instead, follow directions on the Relief of benefit charges page to apply for relief of charges for employees on your statement who:

  • Were laid off if your business had to close or curtail operations due to a COVID-19 infection at the workplace.
  • Were directed by a medical professional to be isolated or quarantined to prevent the spread of COVID-19, even if they were not actually diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Meet any of the other criteria listed on the Relief of benefit charges page.

2. Submit the names and Social Security numbers of employees remaining on your list who meet BOTH of these criteria:

  • You had to temporarily lay them off in the first or second quarter of 2020 because you had to close or severely curtail your operations due to a state or federal order adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For example, these orders might have limited the size of social gatherings or required non-essential workers to stay home.
  • They returned to work for you at a level similar to their former job with you. Then, they worked in that job for at least four weeks and you paid them at least 90 percent of the weekly pay they earned before they were laid off.


    They returned to work for you for at least one week before being discharged for misconduct or before quitting for reasons that were not your fault. Examples include quitting to follow a spouse, to escape domestic violence, to move their household to another location, to stay home with a child, etc.

Two ways to submit your application

  1. The fastest and easiest way to submit your application is through our secure upload website.
    1. Download this Benefit Charge Offset Application Template to enter employee names and Social Security numbers.
    2. Save the template to your computer.
    3. Upload by Sept. 30, 2020, on the secure Apply for Benefit Charge Offset page. We will not accept late applications.


  1. Download this application or call the Account Management Center at 855-829-9243 if you would like us to mail you a paper application. Please use this method only if you have fewer than 50 employees to report.

Use only the table in the application to enter employee information. Do not use your own table or spreadsheet. Submit the application by either:

  • Fax - 800-794-7657
  • Mail – Employment Security Department, Rates Unit, P.O. Box 9046, Olympia, WA 98507-9046
  • Email –

Fax, postmark or email your application by Sept. 30, 2020. We will not accept late applications.

After you apply

  • We will begin reviewing applications in October.
  • We will notify you by mail when we approve or deny your application.
    • If we approve your application: You will find out the amount of your offset when you receive your 2021 annual tax rate notice.
    • If we deny your application: We’re sorry, but the state law does not give you the option to appeal.

What the law says