Washington Unemployment Compensation laws & HR compliance analysis

Washington Unemployment Compensation: What you need to know

Virtually all employers are subject to unemployment insurance taxes under Washington's Employment Security Act (WA Code Sec. 50.01.005 et seq.). Coverage extends to any organization that:
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• Has one or more people working in the state of Washington at any time;
• Acquires the business of a covered employer;
• Paid $20,000 for agricultural labor in any calendar quarter of either the current or preceding calendar year or that employed 10 or more agricultural workers for some portion of a day in each of 20 different weeks in either the current or preceding calendar year;
• Is an employer of domestic servants that paid wages of $1,000 or more in any quarter of the current or preceding calendar year; or
• Is considered an Indian tribe.
The law excludes certain services from coverage, including, for example, services provided by:
• Students working for schools, colleges, or universities;
• Students working for work-study programs;
• Spouses of students working for schools;
• Real estate and insurance salespersons;
• Outside salespersons paid solely by commission;
• Investment company agents or solicitors paid by commission;
• Certain newspaper distributors (e.g., minors);
• Casual laborers;
• Corporate officers, unless they elect to be covered;
• Anyone employed by a church or a convention or association of churches; and
• Participants in sheltered workshops or government work-relief or work-training programs (WA Code Sec. 50.04.100 et seq. and WA Code Sec. 50.44.040).
Taxable wage base. For the current taxable wage base, visit https://esd.wa.gov/employer-taxes. The term “wages” includes the following:
• Commissions and bonuses;
• The reasonable value of any noncash remuneration; and
• Reported tips (

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