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Table of contents

Overview

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:

Voluntary disclosure

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.

Nexus

Physical Presence - Retail and Wholesale Sales

For businesses making retail or wholesale 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 purposes of this subsection, 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

Economic Nexus - Apportionable Income

Effective June 1, 2010, an “economic nexus” standard rather than a “physical presence” standard was created with regard to certain activities. It requires some businesses earning “apportionable income” (including activities subject to the service and other activities and royalty B&O tax classifications) from Washington customers to be subject to taxes whether or not they maintain offices in the state or have any physical presence. See Economic Nexus for more information.

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:

Appeals process

To learn your appeal rights, visit our online Appeals Guide.

Audit process

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 five years after they stop doing business in Washington. During this five-year 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 four years
  • For more information, see our Special Notice on Trailing Nexus.

If you have questions on your tax obligation, you may request a tax ruling.

Close my account now.

Reseller Permits

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.


 

References

Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-102
Excise Tax Advisory (ETA) 3005.2009 (pdf)

Resources

Small business guide
Small Business Guide Washington State (Governor's Office of Regulatory Assistance)

Employment Security
Unemployment Insurance
Status Unit
(360) 902-9360

Labor and Industries
Industrial Insurance & Contractors Bonding
Employer Services (360) 902-4817
Contractors Bonding (360) 902-6359

Business Licensing Service
Business Licensing
1-800-451-7985