History of Washington Taxes

From the establishment of Washington as a territory in 1853 until the Depression years of the 1930s, property tax was the principal revenue source for both state and local governments. With the passage of the Revenue Act of 1935 Washington began focusing on excise taxes such as the retail sales and use tax and the business and occupation tax. Open the data tables (Excel), or the interactive data visualizations below to learn more about:

  • History of Washington state taxes
  • Tax rate history of selected state taxes
  • Collection history of selected state taxes


This interactive data visualization allows you to filter the information on each page by various criteria, such as decade, tax, or year. Scroll over or click visualizations for additional detail.

Tax rates and collections of selected state taxes:

This interactive data visualization allows you to view the tax rate and collections from selected taxes. Use the dropdown list to choose a tax. Hover over the line or bar chart for additional detail. The bars highlighted in orange provide additional information about tax rate or other changes.

Washington last increased the state sales tax in 1983.

Additional Information:

To learn more about Washington’s tax structure, the following publications provide additional information: