Table of contents
The state of Washington has no corporate or individual income tax. Washington relies on other taxes to fund public services. The three major taxes are:
If you have been doing business in Washington and are not registered with the Department of Revenue, you can come forward under the Voluntary Disclosure Program. Learn more about this program and how it can benefit you.
When to register
Out-of-state businesses must register with the Washington State Department of Revenue if:
- The business conducts activities that establish nexus sufficient for imposing B&O tax or the public utility tax.
- The business collects retail sales, use tax, or other taxes administered by the Department.
- The business collects Washington's use tax.
A business may not need to register if:
- Their annual gross income from Washington activities is less than $12,000.
- The business is not required to collect or pay sales tax or use tax.
- The business is not required to obtain a license or registration from another Washington State agency.
How to register
If your business is a corporation, limited liability company, or limited liability partnership, first contact the Corporations Division of the Secretary of State at (360) 725-0377.
To register, file a Business License Application. This one form will register your business with the Department of Revenue, and other state agencies. When processed, a Unified Business Identifier (UBI)/Tax Registration Number will be issued.
See our new business information after you have registered.
County and city requirements
Many Washington cities and counties have licensing requirements and taxes on business activities. The Business Licensing Service offers more information on licensing and tax requirements.
Physical Presence - Retail Sales
For businesses making retail sales into Washington, a person is deemed to have a substantial nexus with this state if the person has a physical presence in this state, which need only be demonstrably more than a slightest presence. For nexus purposes, a person is physically present in this state if the person has property or employees in this state. A person is also physically present in this state if the person, either directly or through an agent or other representative, engages in activities in this state that are significantly associated with the person's ability to establish or maintain a market for its products in this state. See RCW 82.04.067(6).
A few examples of nexus-creating activities include, but are not limited to:
- Soliciting sales in this state through employees or other representatives
- Installing or assembling goods in this state, either by employees or other representatives
- Maintaining a stock of goods in this state
- Renting or leasing tangible personal property
- Providing services
- Constructing, installing, repairing, maintaining real property or tangible personal property in this state
- Making regular deliveries of goods into Washington using the taxpayer's own vehicles
Until September 1, 2015, this physical presence nexus standard also applies to out-of-state businesses making wholesales sales into Washington. Effective September 1, 2015, nexus for most out-of-state wholesalers (as defined in RCW 82.04.257(1) and RCW 82.04.270) is based on economic nexus standards as described below.
New Economic Nexus Standard – Wholesale Sales
Effective Sept. 1, 2015, economic nexus standards apply to businesses making wholesale sales taxable under RCW 82.04.257(1) or 82.04.270. This means that most out-of-state businesses making wholesale sales into Washington will be subject to the wholesaling business and occupation (B&O) tax on wholesale sales into this state for the current year if they meet any of the following economic nexus thresholds during the prior calendar year:
- More than $267,000 of gross income in Washington
- More than $53,000 of payroll in Washington
- More than $53,000 of property in Washington
- At least 25 percent of total property, payroll, or income in Washington
These thresholds are adjusted periodically based on changes to the Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers.
Establishing economic nexus for wholesale sales does not by itself also establish nexus for purposes of Retail Sales Tax, Use Tax or Retailing B&O tax as these taxes still require physical presence nexus.
Retail Sales – Click-through Transactions
Also, effective Sept. 1, 2015, the state of Washington has adopted a “click-through” nexus standard for both retailing B&O tax and retail sales tax purposes. Under these provisions, out-of-state retailers are presumed to have physical nexus with this state if they:
- enter into agreements with Washington residents and pay a commission or other consideration for referrals (such as linking on a website), and
- gross more than $10,000 in sales into Washington state during the prior calendar year under this type of agreement.
RCW 82.04.220 provides that for B&O tax purposes a person who stops the business activity that created nexus in Washington continues to have nexus for the remainder of that calendar year, plus one additional calendar year (also known as "trailing nexus"). The department applies the same trailing nexus period for retail sales tax and other taxes reported on the excise tax return. See WAC 458-20-193.
Economic Nexus - Apportionable Income - Two Important Dates
Effective June 1, 2010, an “economic nexus” standard rather than a “physical presence” standard was created with regard to certain activities. Some businesses earning “apportionable income” (including activities subject to the service and other activities and royalty B&O tax classifications) attributed to Washington will be subject to the B&O tax whether or not they maintain offices in the state or have any physical presence. See Economic Nexus and WAC 458-20-19402 for more information.
Effective September 1, 2015, the economic nexus standard is extended to business engaging in wholesaling activity. Additionally, the time frame for determining whether a business has exceeded any of the economic nexus thresholds changes from the current tax year to the immediately preceding tax year. Part II of ESSB 6138.
Taxability of construction and installation activities
Contractors who perform construction activities within this state are subject to Washington's excise taxes, even if they don't have a place of business here. Our Construction Guide can help you determine which construction and installation activities are taxable.
Do you perform personal/professional services from both inside and outside Washington? (Not including construction services.)
If so, you will need to follow certain guidelines for apportioning your income.
To learn more:
To learn your appeal rights, visit our online Reviews and Appeals Guide.
The Department of Revenue selects businesses for routine audits to determine whether the proper state excise taxes have been reported and paid. Learn more on our audits page.
Closing my account
Out-of-state businesses may have a tax obligation for the remainder of the year and one additional year after they stop doing business in Washington. During this period
- Business and occupation tax applies to income from sales in Washington and services attributable to Washington for one year following the year nexus is created.
- Sales tax must be collected on all taxable retail sales that take place in Washington for the remainder of the calendar year in which nexus ceased and the following year
If you have questions on your tax obligation, you may request a tax ruling.
Close my account now.
Effective January 1, 2010, the resale certificate was replaced with a reseller permit issued by the Department of Revenue. Reseller permits are issued to businesses that make wholesale purchases, including qualified contractors. The permits allow businesses to purchase items or services for resale in Washington without paying retail sales tax.
Reseller permits are free and are issued to businesses that make wholesale purchases. The permits allow businesses to purchase items or services for resale without paying retail sales tax.
For more information on reseller permits, see our Reseller Permit page.
Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-102
Excise Tax Advisory (ETA) 3005.2009 (pdf)
Small Business Guide Washington State (Governor's Office of Regulatory Assistance)
Labor and Industries
Industrial Insurance & Contractors Bonding
Employer Services (360) 902-4817
Contractors Bonding (360) 902-6359
Business Licensing Service