Employers may experience temporary registration delays
Updated Oct. 25, 2023
Some employers may experience a temporary delay while the Employment Security Department processes business registration applications for Unemployment Insurance.
Delays mostly affect:
- New employers who have applied for business accounts.
- Existing businesses adding a new location and requesting separate reporting.
As a result, you may receive a billing statement that shows penalties or interest charges. Our system automatically adds penalties and interest.
We are reviewing affected accounts and will remove penalties and interest where applicable. Once you pay your quarterly taxes, we can manually remove the charges.
We apologize for the delay and resulting charges. We are working to quickly process registration applications and remove penalties and interest.
Submit a waiver request
If we assessed penalties or interest due to the agency not processing your application in time:
- Wait 60 days after you filed and paid your third-quarter 2023 quarterly tax report.
- Request a tax penalty waiver request.
If you recently submitted a business registration application, you may not receive your Employment Security Department Number in time to file your third-quarter 2023 tax report. In this case, please wait until we have set up your account. Once you have your ESD Number, use Employer Account Management Services (EAMS) to file your taxes electronically.
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 or taxes are unable to be paid.
Employer tips and information
On this page:
• Who and what to report
Pay taxes only
Use EAMS to pay your unemployment taxes online.
Note: If you use paper forms to file your taxes, we will send you the forms in the mail. You must use the current, original forms we send you or you might receive a penalty. To request the latest forms, Email OlympiaAMC@esd.wa.gov.
Review the basis for your unemployment taxes:
- What you pay unemployment taxes on
- Taxable wage base
- How we determine your unemployment tax rate
- Common notices sent to employers
Calculate your unemployment taxes:
Learn more about how to appeal if you disagree with your unemployment tax rate.
Learn more about penalties for:
What to include in unemployment taxes
Filing reports for clients
Program parameters come from both federal statute and guidance and state statute and rules.
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 for 2023 is $67,600, increasing from $62,500 in 2022. The taxable wage base for 2021 was $56,500.
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.
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
- Learn more about audits
- Working with us during an audit
- Common findings
- What happens after an audit (pdf)
- Appealing audit findings