How to Get a Sales Tax Registration Number in Washington
Most businesses starting in Washington 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 State 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 determine 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 as the sale of tangible personal property in the state of Washington. 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.
- Sales tax nexus. Even if your business is located in another state, you may still need to register for a sales tax number. Sales tax nexus is a way of saying a business has a significant presence in the state. Economic nexus is not only determined by making retail sales, but also have employees, an office, or warehousing products in the state.
- 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.)
- A remote seller meets one of the following scenarios:
- Making total annual sales of tangible personal property to Washington residents of $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?
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 are taxable in Washington.
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
See the full list of sales taxes on services in Washington.
How to register for a sales tax registration number in Washington
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 sells a taxable product or service, the business charges the appropriate sales tax rate to where the buyer purchases the goods. 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 business’s address 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 sales volume, 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, which 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.
Sales tax on purchases for resale
A business can purchase items to resell without paying the retail sales tax. The tax liability is passed from the wholesaler or distributor to the retailer, who will then charge state 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 (also referred to as a resale certificate or sales tax exemption certificate) to document the items being purchased are for resale.
In addition to registering for a sales tax permit, there may be other business licenses needed before starting your business in Washington. Learn more about Washington business licenses and permits.
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.