Caterers and catering

Are caterers required to collect sales tax?

Caterers must collect retail sales tax on their total charge to customers for catering services. This includes the charge for meals, equipment, decorations, as well as the catering service.

The caterer must collect sales tax based on the location where the meals are served.

Wholesale sales

Caterers selling to persons other than consumers are making wholesale sales and may accept a reseller permit and report under the Wholesaling B&O tax classification. Retail sales tax does not apply to these sales.

Do caterers have to pay sales tax on purchases?

Yes. Caterers must pay retail sales or use tax on purchases or rentals of items for their own use in the business. The caterer is considered to be the consumer of all tangible personal property used. The tax applies even if the caterer itemizes the charge to the customer for the use of the items.

Taxable items include:

  • Plates
  • Glasses
  • Linens
  • Serving utensils
  • Silverware
  • Decorations
  • Cooking equipment

References: WAC 458-20-124; WAC 458-20-119