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Unemployment taxes

 Understand how recent legislation has affected your 2022 tax rate.

If you have employees working in Washington, you likely must pay unemployment taxes on their wages in this state. Tax reports or tax and wage reports are due quarterly. Liable employers must submit a tax report every quarter, even if there are no paid employees that quarter and/or taxes are unable to be paid.

Employer tips and information

Register your business/hire employees | Unemployment tax handbook (pdf) | Law and regulations Frequently asked questions Contact information by topic | Reporting fraud

 


On this page:


Filing wage reports and paying unemployment taxes

Tax reports or tax and wage reports, and unemployment tax payments can be filed and paid through our free and efficient online systems, or by submitting our original paper forms.

Employer Account Management Services (EAMS) or EAMS for Single Filers can be used to file tax reports and wage reports online. You will need to set up your online account in advance. 

ePay can be used to pay unemployment taxes online. Avoid last-minute setup or compatibility issues by taking time to get familiar with ePay before using it to pay unemployment taxes. 

  

All-in-one option with Employer Account Management Services (EAMS)

Submit wage reports, pay taxes and manage your account. Some of the following features require advanced access to Locked Services.

  • Save, amend, view and file wage reports.
  • Copy and paste employee data from quarter to quarter.
  • Auto-calculate excess wages.
  • Pay your taxes.
  • Check your tax rate.
  • Bulk-file multiple accounts or large payrolls.
  • Access EAMS through SecureAccess Washington (SAW).

How to use EAMS | Login to EAMS

  

EAMS for Single Filers (for former UIWEB Tax users)

Use EAMS for Single Filers to submit and pay tax and wage reports. Users who need to make amendments or who are bulk filers should not use EAMS for Single Filers.

    • One-time filing of tax reports or tax and wage reports.
      • Useful for filing a no-payroll report or tax and wages for a small number of employees.
        • Can't amend reports you've filed. Must separately amend tax report by filing amended Tax & Wage Report. 
          • Auto-calculate excess wages for Washington employees.
            • Save unfinished work.
              • Print reports.
                • Pay, view and cancel payments.
                  • View account activity.
                    • Control your user account.

                    How to use EAMS for Single Filers | Login to EAMS for Single Filers

                      

                    Pay taxes only

                    Use ePay to pay your unemployment taxes online. To use ePay, you must have a confirmation number generated from UIWebTax or EAMS.

                    How to use ePay | Login to ePay

                     

                    Notice: Please use the latest revision (Nov. 18, 2015) of the Quarterly Unemployment Insurance – Tax Summary (5208A) and Quarterly Unemployment Insurance – Wage Detail (5208B) forms. Failure to use these revised forms usually results in reporting format penalties being charged to your ESD Account. To request the latest forms, please call the Account Management Center at 855-829-9243. Select Option 4.

                     


                    Unemployment tax rates

                     

                    Review the basis for your unemployment taxes:

                    Calculate your unemployment taxes:

                    Learn more about how to appeal if you disagree with your unemployment tax rate. 

                     


                    Penalties

                    Learn more about penalties for:

                    Request a tax-penalty waiver  |  Set up a payment plan

                     


                    Who and what to report

                    Who is excluded from unemployment taxes

                    Filing reports for clients

                     


                    Unemployment Insurance is a federal-state partnership 

                    Program parameters come from both federal statute and guidance and state statute and rules.

                    The federal government paid for many unemployment programs used during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 including:

                    • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
                    • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
                    • Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (extra $600/week)
                    • Lost Wages Assistance (extra $300/week)
                    • Extended Benefits
                    • SharedWork
                    • First week of regular UI benefits

                    Federal pandemic unemployment benefits expired on the week ending Sept. 4, 2021

                    Every state has a UI trust fund

                    States deposit employer tax dollars in individual UI trust funds for paying future benefits.

                    • ESD produces Washington’s UI trust fund forecast report three times per year.
                    • Find current and archived reports on ESD's labor market page for the trust fund.

                     

                    Employers pay two types of taxes: state (SUTA) and federal (FUTA)

                    • SUTA taxes fund benefit payments for claimants. They’re deposited in the state’s UI trust fund.
                    • FUTA taxes are administered at the federal level. They’re used for oversight of state unemployment programs. During times of high unemployment, states may borrow from FUTA funds, helping provide benefits to locally unemployed people.

                     

                    State Unemployment Taxes (SUTA)

                    An employee’s wages are taxable up to an amount called the taxable wage base, authorized in RCW 50.24.010. This taxable wage base is $62,500 in 2022, increasing from $56,500 in 2021.

                    Experience tax currently capped at 5.4% (RCW 50.29.025(1)(a)(ii))

                    • Annual tax calculation based on the ratio of benefit claims of former employees charged to the employer and taxable wages reported by the employer over the preceding four fiscal years.
                    • Employers are placed in one of 40 rate classes based on former employees’ use of UI program.

                    Flat social tax currently capped at 0.50% (RCW 50.29.025)

                    • Shared-cost tax, based on costs from the previous year for benefit payments that can’t be attributed to specific employers.
                    • State law instructs ESD to adjust the flat social tax rate based on the employer’s rate class.
                    • The flat social tax is capped at 0.50% for 2021, 0.50% for 2022, 0.75% for 2023, 0.85% for 2024 and 0.90% for 2025. In all other years, the flat social tax is capped at 1.22%. 

                    The total of the experience tax and the social tax can’t exceed 6%.

                    Solvency tax currently capped is waived (RCW 50.29.041)

                    • For taxes paid for 2021 through 2025, the solvency surcharge is currently waived.
                    • For all other years, state statute requires ESD to assess a solvency surcharge when the UI trust fund has less than seven months of benefits as of Sept. 30.
                    • The solvency surcharge will be the lowest possible rate needed to get the UI trust fund back up to nine months of benefits. ESD assesses the solvency tax for the following calendar year. 

                    Federal Unemployment Taxes (FUTA)

                    Because Washington’s unemployment program conforms to federal law, state employers pay a FUTA tax of 0.6% on the first $7,000 of each employee’s wages. This is the same as last year.


                    Audits

                    Employers' records are audited to ensure that wages and hours are accurately reported as required by Washington state's unemployment-insurance laws and rules. Being selected for audit does not mean you violated any laws or rules.