As an employer in Washington state, you are most likely required to pay state unemployment taxes, administered by the Employee Security Department (ESD). Unlike the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), where you pay unemployment taxes for employees who earn more than $1,500, in Washington, you need to pay state unemployment taxes for an employee regardless of their wages.
SUI Tax Rate
The Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill (ESSB) 5061 was passed in February 2021 to help provide unemployment tax relief for businesses through 2025. The Washington state unemployment insurance (SUI) tax rate varies from company to company. The ESD will typically send out a tax rate notice in December for the following year. Two factors go into assigning you a tax rate:
Experience-based tax: Based on your experience of paying unemployment benefits over the past four years.
Social-cost tax: Covers the unemployment tax that cannot be recovered from a specific business, such as a company that went out of business.
In 2023, the average SUI tax rate is 1.43%. The experience tax rate has been capped at 5.4%. Social tax is currently capped at 0.75% and will increase annually until it reaches 0.90% in 2025. Employers must pay SUI taxes on the first $62,500 of each employee’s wages, in addition to FUTA taxes, where you pay on the first $7,000 of each employee’s wages.
Filing and Paying Quarterly SUI Tax
You can file online through the ESD portal, Employer Account Management Services (EAMS), your SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account, or by mailing one of their original forms. Paper forms must be obtained through the ESD and cannot be copied due to a unique link used to scan information into their computers. You can request a form by emailing OlympiaAMC@esd.wa.gov or calling 855-TAX-WAGE (use option 4 for paper forms).
To pay online, you may choose to use EAMS or the ESD ePay portal. You can also pay by mail by requesting a payment voucher from the ESD.
Employment Security Number
Your ES Number is a 12-digit number used to file your quarterly unemployment taxes. Not to be confused with your Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number, which is a 9-digit number that begins with 600, 601, or 602.
You can find your ES Number printed on the top right corner of your annual tax-rate notice, on your SAW account, or by calling the Employment Security Department at (855) 829-9243.
Deadline to File
Unemployment tax payments and reports are due every quarter by the last day of the month following the last day of each quarter.
If the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, your payment can be postmarked by the following business day.
Need Help Filing SUI Reports?
Our bookkeepers have years of experience with federal (FUTA) and Washington state (SUI) unemployment tax. As part of our full-charge bookkeeping service, we can make timely and accurate deposits and file reports for your business. Contact us or give us a call at (360) 756-5020 to learn more about our services!
Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal, business, or tax advice. Please consult with your accountant or bookkeeper for more information based on your specific situation. For more information, check out the following resources: