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Unemployment taxes

Three important messages to all employers and third-party administrators

1. You must upgrade to our new version of EAMS before you file your fourth-quarter tax report.

EAMS is the Employer Account Management System for filing quarterly wage reports and paying unemployment taxes. If you’re eligible to upgrade, you’ll see an upgrade alert after logging in. We are gradually making this upgrade available to all customers in time to file fourth-quarter reports. The updated EAMS is designed to perform better and improve your experience.

If you submit files in bulk or if you need to make amendments to your report:
You can use the new EAMS for these tasks as well.

How to upgrade to the new EAMS

  • Log into SecureAccess Washington and sign into EAMS.
  • If you’re eligible to upgrade, you will see an upgrade alert at the top of the page.
  • Select the link and follow the instructions.
  • If you don’t see the upgrade alert, don’t worry! It will be in place for you to file your fourth-quarter tax report.

Learn more about the upgrade:

2. Update your files and software with our new payment addresses.

The Employment Security Department (ESD) changed to U.S. Bank for unemployment insurance taxes and benefits. As a result, our payment addresses for employers also changed.

Please update any processes, forms, files or software with these new addresses.

3. Stay informed about issues important to employers. 

Sign up for our newsletter and see past issues

 

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

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

Refer to the About the Employer Account Management Services (EAMS) page

   

Pay taxes only

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

How to use ePay | Login to ePay

 

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.

 


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.

 
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.


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.