Washington’s controversial long-term care tax may be delayed.

Some good news regarding the state’s new and controversial long-term care tax. The Seattle Times reports the tax may be delayed pending legislative fixes to the law establishing the program.

Gov. Jay Inslee and some Washington Democratic lawmakers are in discussions to potentially delay the long-term care payroll tax set to begin Jan. 1.

The talks come after state Senate Democratic leaders on Wednesday sent Inslee a letter urging him to delay the tax to fund the WA Cares program until the beginning of January 2023.

Passed in 2019 by the Legislature and signed by Inslee, the WA Cares Fund creates a 0.58% payroll deduction on employees, set to begin in January. Starting in 2025, eligible beneficiaries could then start claiming up to $36,500 to help pay for things like home care, meal delivery, assisted living or other needs.

But a range of critiques has emerged this year as the program began to get off the ground, with concerns that too many people would pay the tax but never receive benefits, as well concern over the inability of some people to take advantage of the one-time opt out from the program this year.

We’ve previously written about the tax, citing the coalition of business, labor, and local government groups identifying flaws in the program; the Washington Research Council’s detailed analysis of the legislation; and the lawsuit filed challenging the tax.

The ST reports the path to a pause in the tax is not straightforward.

For the Legislature to make a change, Inslee would have to call them in to a special session before the end of the year.

But officials are looking at another option for a short-term delay in the tax collection that might not require a special session, Inslee said.

“It would basically pause the collection of any taxes associated with this while the Legislature makes these refinements,” said Inslee. Officials are checking if that can be done lawfully, he added.

The governor said he would support a delay on the tax collection, “if the Legislature has a meaningful way” to address issues with the program.

We’ll see. More coverage at the NW News Network and the Spokesman-Review.