Terms relevant to this guide

Business and Occupation (B&O) tax: A gross receipts tax imposed on persons conducting business activities in Washington. There are different reporting classifications for various business activities. Each classification has its own tax rate. Persons performing more than one activity may be subject to B&O tax under more than one classification.

Business license application: A document completed by a person registering a business in Washington with one or more state agencies. Upon submitting a Business License Application, the person receives a Unified Business Identifier (UBI) number and a Business License to post at the business location(s).

Public Utility Tax (PUT): A tax on public service businesses, including businesses that engage in transportation. The tax is in lieu of the business and occupation (B&O) tax.

Reseller permit: A certificate a seller takes from the buyer to document the wholesale nature of a sale.

Retail sales tax: Businesses making retail sales in Washington collect sales tax from their customers. Generally, retail sales tax is collected on sales of tangible personal property and sales of services such as installation, repair, cleaning, altering, improving, construction, and decorating. Retail sales tax includes the state and local components of the tax.

RCW (Revised Code of Washington): Laws of the state of Washington.

UBI/Account ID: A nine-digit number issued via the Unified Business Identifier (UBI) system and used to identify registered businesses. This number is sometimes referred to as a registration, tax, “C,” or resale number.

The number is assigned when a person completes a Business License Application to register with or obtain a license from state agencies. The departments of Revenue, Labor & Industries, Employment Security, and the Business Licensing Service and Office of Secretary of State are among the state agencies participating in the UBI program. In most cases, your UBI number will also be your DOR account ID. Spouses who file separately and corporations that file multiple accounts are assigned separate account ID numbers as needed.

Use tax: A tax imposed on the use in Washington of goods and certain services by a consumer when the state’s retail sales tax has not been paid. Either sales tax or use tax applies, but not both, with respect to goods or services purchased and/ or used by a consumer. In this manner, the use tax serves to complement the sales tax. Like sales tax, the use tax is a combined state and local tax. Use tax and sales tax rates are the same for the particular local taxing jurisdiction.

WAC: Washington Administrative Code.