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How unemployment benefits affect your taxes

The process used to determine tax rates

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Washington's unemployment-insurance program is an experience-based system. In general, your tax rate depends on how much your former workers collect in unemployment benefits and how big your payroll is.

There are two major components of state unemployment taxes, an experience-rated tax based on an average of the employer's layoff history over the past four fiscal years and a shared-cost (social) tax based on costs from the previous year that can't be attributed to a specific employer. Please see the Unemployment insurance taxes fact sheet for more information.

For 2014, the estimated average unemployment tax rate is 2.07 percent. Tax rates range from as low as 0.14 percent to as high as 5.82 percent.

Employers with delinquent tax bills also may receive a range of delinquent-tax rates. The lowest  delinquent-tax rate for experienced employers in 2014 is .95 percent, and the highest is 7.85 percent.

The average tax rate in recent years has been:

YearAverage Tax Rate
2010  2.39%

We send you your tax rate in December for the following year. That is your rate for the entire year.

2014 tax rates

These forms will help you understand your 2014 tax rates.

2014 tax rate chart (PDF, 115KB)

Archive tax rates

Archived tax rate charts

2013 (PDF, 66KB)

2012 (PDF, 114 KB)

2011 (PDF, 47.4KB)

2005-2010 (PDF, 194KB)

Calculate your tax rate

You can use our online calculators to figure out your tax rate. These calculators will work if you have your taxable wages and benefit charges for the last four years. This calculator will determine 2014 tax rate only.

2014 tax rate calculator (XLS, 3.05MB)

New employers

If you are a new employer or haven't been in business long enough, you won't have enough "experience" to get your own tax rate. Instead, you will be assigned a rate based on your industry. For 2014, new employers will pay 90 percent of the average rate for all businesses in their respective industries.

Delinquent-tax rate

You must send all past-due taxes and/or late reports to us by September 30 to avoid a delinquent rate for the following year.

If you owe taxes and cannot make full payment, contact your tax account management center to set up a payment plan. If your payment plan is approved before September 30, you will receive your earned tax rate for the following year, rather than the delinquent rate.

Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked question for employers

Relevant laws and rules

General tax rates (see Section 2)

Delinquent-tax rates

Tax rates for new employers

Tax rates for predecessor and successor employers

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