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Appeal an unemployment tax decision

If you disagree with a decision we made regarding your account, such as your tax rate or a penalty we have charged you, or our decision to allow an employee unemployment-insurance benefits, you have the right to file an appeal.

Before you file your appeal, you must have an appealable document from us. For example, if you want to appeal the amount of taxes or penalties, you will need a Notice of Assessment.

If you disagree with a benefits decision, the written decision we sent to you is your appealable document.

If you do not have an appealable document or you need more information about your taxes and/or penalties, contact your tax account management center.

For questions related to Request for Separation Information or a decision to allow benefits, contact the Employer Help Line at 877-504-5607. Have your 12-digit employer ID available before you call.

Preparing for your appeal

Your appeal must be in writing and must include:

For tax appeals, your letter must be postmarked within 30 days of the date on the appealable document we sent you, and mailed to:

Employment Security Department
Tax Appeals
PO Box 9046,
Olympia, WA 98507-9046

For decisions regarding an employee’s unemployment-insurance benefits, you can file an appeal online through eServices.

The hearing

The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), a state agency separate from Employment Security, will hear your case. You will get a letter that includes the date and time of your hearing and the steps you need to take to prepare for that hearing.

Most hearings are conducted over the phone by an administrative law judge. All testimony is given under oath. You, your representative and/or your witnesses should have first-hand knowledge of the details of the case. This is an administrative hearing, not a formal court hearing. Attorneys are not required, although you may have one if you wish.

Within about two weeks of the hearing, you will get a letter from OAH that tells you the decision in your case and explains the results.

The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) has created a 32-minute instructional video that will give you an idea of how the Office of Administrative Hearings conducts administrative hearings.  While it describes an unemployment benefit hearing instead of a tax hearing, many of the hearing procedures depicted in the video are also used in tax hearings.

You can also review the OAH Unemployment Hearings page for complete information.


If you win your appeal

If OAH decides in your favor, we will adjust your account according to the findings in your case. In many cases, this means you will not owe any back taxes, penalties or interest. In some cases, OAH may modify the findings of your audit. This means that some of your tax debt is removed and some is not.

If you do NOT win your appeal

If OAH does not decide in your favor, you can file a Petition for Review with our department’s commissioner. This appeal must be in writing, postmarked within 30 days of the date OAH mailed its decision to you, and sent to:

Employment Security Department
Records Center
P.O. Box 9555
Olympia, WA 98507-9555

The commissioner will make a decision based on the record of the original hearing. No new testimony or evidence can be admitted.

If you disagree with the commissioner’s decision, you may file a written appeal with the Superior Court within 30 days. You are responsible for all court costs and attorney’s fees associated with your appeal to Superior Court.

If you must pay

If you are unable to pay the full amount due, contact your tax account management center to set up a deferred-payment contract that allows you to make payments.