Enhanced food fish tax

What is the enhanced food fish tax?

In addition to the B&O tax, commercial fish buyers and sellers may be liable for the excise tax on enhanced food fish. We measure that tax by the value of the fish when first landed. This tax also applies to byproducts and parts of seafood.

The law bases the fish tax on enhanced food fish value at the point of landing. The law considers the fish as "landed" when they are placed on a tender in the territorial waters of Washington, or when they are brought to land, which includes wharves, piers, or other such extensions.

What rate do I pay?

Species Rate
Puget Sound anadromous games fish; chinook, coho and chum salmon .0562
Ocean waters, Columbia River, Willapa Bay, and Grays Harbor (including fish caught in Oregon, British Columbia, Southeast Alaska) anadromous game fish; chinook, coho and chum salmon .0669
Sea urchins and cucumbers .0225
Pink and sockeye salmon .0337
Shellfish; other food fish .0225
Oysters .0009

Who pays the fish tax?

The fish tax is usually paid by the licensed dealer who bought the fish; the commercial fisher usually doesn’t pay the fish tax. However, if the buyer is someone other than a Department of Fish and Wildlife licensed dealer, then the commercial fisher is directly responsible for the tax.

Even when the commercial fisher sells the fish to a licensed dealer, the fisher may bear some of the economic burden of the fish tax. A dealer is entitled to deduct an amount equal to half of the fish tax from the price they paid to the fisher.

How do I pay the tax?

You need to report the fish tax on the Enhanced Food Fish Excise Tax addendum (worksheet) to the Combined Excise Tax Return.

Which fish are exempt?

  • Transactions involving treaty food fish are not subject to the enhanced food fish tax, regardless of where the transaction takes place.
  • Enhanced food fish originating outside Washington which enter Washington frozen, or packaged for retail sale.
  • Shellfish raised from eggs or larvae, and under the physical control of the grower until harvested or sold
  • Tuna, mackerel, and jack fish are exempt from the enhanced food fish tax.

Such documentation required for exemption to keep includes fish tickets, bills of lading, invoices, or other documentation are required to be kept by business owners to potentially reconcile fish tax with reports sent to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

What credits are available?

A credit is allowed against the amount of enhanced food fish tax owed for any tax previously paid on the same food fish to any legally established taxing authority. To qualify for a credit, the owner of the enhanced food fish must have documentation showing they paid the tax in another jurisdiction.

If you have questions about the fish tax, please call (360) 705-6705.