Re: “Save employers from skyrocketing unemployment tax” [Oct. 18, Opinion]:
Many businesses and other employers in Washington have contracted drastically or have been forced by the pandemic to close for good. Both employers and the unemployed are suffering financially through no fault of their own.
The Unemployment Law Project helps jobless workers obtain unemployment benefits that are owed to them. But we agree with The Seattle Times editorial board that employers could face an unfair tax burden due to crisis levels of unemployment. Action is needed. Employers should not have to pay for 100% of the benefits the unemployed need.
An alternative tax structure that includes a percentage of taxes paid by employees from their wages has worked well in Alaska, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It enables those states to provide benefits to more of the unemployed at lower cost to employers.
Washington already has a successful model of this structure: the Paid Family and Medical Leave program. Including employee taxation helped that bill gain passage. It also gives employers less incentive to fight their employees’ benefits.
We urge Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature to consider similar options to shield businesses from harsh tax burdens and help return Washington to full employment.
Anne Paxton, policy director, Unemployment Law Project