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Most businesses starting in Washington that are selling a product or offering certain services will need to obtain a sales tax registration number.  This is commonly referred to as a seller’s permit, sales tax permit, or sales tax license.   

The sales tax registration is obtained through the Washington Department of Revenue as a part of the Washington Business License Application.  In addition to the sales tax registration, a business can register for Workers’ Compensation (Industrial Insurance) or Unemployment Insurance.

Check out the rest of this guide to find out who needs to register for sales tax, what products and services are taxable, how to register for a permit and reporting requirements.

Who needs a sales tax registration number in Washington?

The state tax registration is required when:

  • Making retail sales in the state.  Generally, a retail sale is considered the sale of tangible personal property in Washington state. It also includes the sale of services such as installation, repair, cleaning, altering, improving, construction, and decorating. Additional services include improving real or personal property, amusement and recreational activities, lawn maintenance, and physical fitness activities
  • A business plans to gross over $12,000 per year
  • Repairing, installing, altering, decorating or improving any item or product for another person (auto repair, remodeling, etc)
  • An out-of-state business selling to Washington residents and one of the following:
    • Total annual sales of tangible personal property to Washington residents is $100,000 or more; or
    • At least 25% of annual gross receipts come from sales to Washington residents

What products and services are taxable in Washington?

Physical products

There are a few exceptions, but almost all physical products are taxable when sold at retail in Washington.  Common examples include:

  • General merchandise like furniture, appliances, and clothing
  • Titled or registered items like vehicles

Most non-prepared food items, prescriptions and certain manufacturing equipment are tax-exempt.  See the full list of sales and use tax exemptions in Washington.

Digital Products

Digital products are taxable in Washington.

Services

Most services aren’t taxable in Washington, however there are a few exceptions, some of which include:

  • Short-term lodging
  • Construction services
  • Landscape maintenance
  • Retail recreation services (fishing charters, day trips, etc)
  • Personal services such as personal training, tanning salons, tattooing, etc.
  • Car washes
  • Catering and personal chefs
  • Towing

See the full list of sales taxes on services in Washington.

How to register for a sales tax registration number in Washington

A sales tax registration number can be obtained by registering through the Department of Revenue’s website My DOR or by mailing in the Business License Application Form (BLS-700-028).

Information needed to register includes:

  • Legal Entity/Owner Name
  • Unified Business Identifier (UBI) (if already registered)
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • Type of business entity (Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, Corporation, LLC)
  • Date business opened
  • Business mailing address and physical address
  • Name, address, SSN, date of birth, percentage ownership, title and phone number of owners/officers/members
  • Estimated gross annual income in Washington
  • Description of what products or services are being sold

How much does a sales tax registration number cost in Washington?

While there isn’t a cost for a tax registration number in Washington, if the registration is for a new business, there is a $19 Business License Application fee.

How long does it take to get a Washington sales tax registration number?

Expect 1-2 business days to process the tax registration when registering online or up to 3 weeks when applying by mail.

After registering, the Department of Revenue will provide a Unified Business Identifier (UBI).

Do you have to renew your Washington sales tax registration number?

The sales tax registration number is a one-time registration and no renewals are needed.  Be mindful that if any information about the business changes such as the mailing address, additional locations or change in ownership, those changes need to be updated with the Department of Revenue.

Sales tax reporting

How is sales tax collected?

When a business makes a sale of a taxable product or service, the business charges the appropriate sales tax rate to the customer.  This tax is collected by the business who then sends it to the Washington Department of Revenue.

How much sales tax is charged?

The sales tax rate that is charged varies depending on the address of the business if the purchase is made in the store.  When shipping in-state, the sales tax is based on the address of the purchaser.

In addition to the statewide tax, there are additional sales taxes that may be added by cities and municipalities.  To find sales tax rates, see the sales tax lookup from the Washington Department of Revenue.

When are Washington sales tax returns due?

The Department of Revenue will determine a filing frequency based on the expected volume of sales, which will be monthly, quarterly or annually.  Generally, a business collecting over $400 in sales taxes each month will file monthly. 

Filings are due the 25th day of the month following the reporting period, unless the 25th falls on a weekend or federal holiday, in which case would move to the next business day.

Even if the business had no sales during the reporting period, a filing is still required indicating no sales occurred.

Sales tax on purchases for resale

A business is able to purchase items to resell without paying state sales tax.  The tax liability is passed from the wholesaler or distributor to the retailer who will then charge sales tax to the end user of the item. 

Wholesalers and distributors will require a sales tax number, and the reseller will fill out a Washington Reseller Permit to document the items being purchased are for resale. 

Questions

If you have questions about the sales tax registration number, the Washington Department of Revenue has a helpful guide called New Business Tax Basics.  They can also be contacted by calling 360-705-6741 or emailing BLS@dor.wa.gov.

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