Who is exempt from retail sales tax?
Dealers may sell vehicles or trailers to the following types of customers without collecting retail sales tax:
- Nonresidents of Washington, including persons from other countries. See Nonresidents
- Nonresident military personnel who are temporarily stationed in Washington. See Military
- ICC carriers with authority to transport across the state's boundaries. See Interstate and/or Foreign Commerce Carriers
- Native Americans and their tribes. See Native Americans
- The United States Government. See Government Sales
- Foreign Governments and diplomats. See Foreign Diplomats
Specific conditions required
There are specific conditions that must be met in order for these sales to be exempt from retail sales tax. Certain affidavits are required to document that the customers have qualified for the sales tax exemption. These affidavits should be retained as permanent records subject to audit.
Dealers must exercise good faith and a degree of care when taking affidavits. Other contradictory information in a customer's file may negate the exempt status of the sale. Contradictory information could include financing applications, credit bureau information, or other documents that show that the customer is a Washington resident.
Example: A customer claims to be an Oregon resident and purchases a new vehicle at a Washington dealership. The Oregon resident shows an Oregon driver's license, an Oregon fishing license and has a post office box mailing address in Oregon which matches the driver's and fishing licenses. The down payment is made with a check from a local bank and that same bank will be the lien holder on the vehicle. There is good cause to check further to be sure the customer is actually an Oregon resident. Additional proof, such as Oregon income tax returns, Oregon voter's registration and a physical address in Oregon should be requested.
Trip Permit - The vehicle or trailer must leave the dealer's premises under the authority of a trip permit. An affidavit must be used when this method is used. If the vehicle or trailer has valid Washington plates, the plates must be removed prior to final delivery. Records must be kept showing disposal of the removed plates. Trip permits may be obtained from field offices of the Department of Transportation, Washington State Patrol, Department of Licensing, or other agents appointed by the department, accompanied by a Use by Nonresident Buyer of Vehicle affidavit.
Nonresident License Plates - The vehicle must leave the dealer's premises with license plates issued by the state of residence of the customer, or in the case of military personnel, a 45-day permit, also accompanied by a Use by Nonresident Buyer of Vehicle affidavit.
Out of State Delivery - The vehicle or trailer must be delivered to the customer outside Washington. It cannot be licensed or titled in Washington nor can it have valid Washington plates attached at the time of final delivery. Use the Certificate of Out of State Delivery.
Delivery Shipside - The vehicle or trailer must be delivered to shipping terminals for delivery to persons who reside in non-contiguous states. It cannot be licensed or titled in Washington nor can it have valid Washington plates attached at the time of final delivery.
U.S. Government - The dealer must have documentation that the sale was to the United States government and was paid for by government voucher.
Foreign Governments Diplomat - A copy of the diplomatic exemption card must be kept in the dealer's records.
Copies of affidavits may also be found in WAC 458-20-177. There is no specific affidavit for sales to the government or for sales to persons with diplomatic cards. The affidavits must be taken at the time of delivery. They will not be accepted by the Department, if received after the fact.
B&O and retail sales tax
Sales with delivery out-of-state are allowed a deduction under both B&O and retail sales tax. Sales with trip permits, nonresident license plates, delivery shipside, sales to US government, and foreign diplomat sales are allowed a deduction under retail sales tax only.
Forms & References
Buyer's Affidavit (To be completed by the buyer when the vehicle is delivered to the buyer within Washington State) (pdf)
Seller's Certificate - In-State Delivery (pdf)
Seller's Certificate - Out-of-State Delivery (To be completed at the time of delivery by the person who delivers the vehicle to the buyer) (pdf)
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 82.08.0263
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 82.08.0264
Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-174
Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-177
Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-192
Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 458-20-193