Opinion: It all adds up: More money will be taken from workers’ paychecks in 2023

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center explains why lawmakers should be interested in repealing both paid family and medical leave and the long-term-care program and payroll tax.

Elizabeth Hovde of the Washington Policy Center explains why lawmakers should be interested in repealing both paid family and medical leave and the long-term-care program and payroll tax

Elizabeth Hovde
Washington Policy Center

As expected, a decrease in pay is on the way for most W2 workers. The payroll tax rate for Washington state’s paid family and medical leave is going up to 0.8% in January — a 33 percent increase in the tax rate. 

Elizabeth Hovde
Elizabeth Hovde

Workers already saw a tax increase for the social program last January when it grew to 0.6% from the 0.4% state lawmakers and the public were sold when the law for paid leave was enacted. The program isn’t paying its way and isn’t expected to in the future. The Employment Security Department said in a mailing to employers, “To keep pace with more people using the program, and as required by law, the premium rate will increase in 2023.”  

Add this tax increase to a 0.58%-plus payroll tax promised for a state-mandated long-term-care program that’s on the way in July, and $1.38 of every $100 most people earn will be taken for new social programs that many Washington workers won’t benefit from and that aren’t reserved for low-income workers. In fact, in some cases, low-income workers will be funding paid time off of work for child bonding or family-member care for people who make more money than they do and who might not need taxpayer dollars. 

Social program via payroll tax is no way to treat Washington workers: Penalizing work isn’t wise. 

Lawmakers should be interested in repealing both paid family and medical leave and the long-term-care program and payroll tax. They aren’t set up for people in need, they have solvency problems and they unfairly take wages from workers who may never need, use or want the program.

Elizabeth Hovde is a policy analyst and the director of the Centers for Health Care and Worker Rights at the Washington Policy Center. She is a Clark County resident.


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