Purchasing items without paying sales tax
Use tax is a tax on the use of goods or certain services in Washington when sales tax has not been paid. Goods used in this state are subject to either sales or use tax, but not both. So if you did not pay sales tax, you should pay the same amount of use tax instead.
Certain out-of-state businesses now required to collect sales tax
As of Oct. 1, 2018 many out-of-state businesses are now required to collect sales tax on purchases delivered to customers in Washington. You may notice companies begin to collect sales tax as a result of this law. You do not have to pay use tax on these purchases if sales tax was collected at the time of sale.
Use tax notice from businesses
If you receive a letter from a business letting you know that you owe use tax, it is not a scam.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, if you are not charged sales tax on a non-exempt purchase delivered to your Washington address, businesses are required to send you an annual notice letting you know that you owe Washington use tax. The notice must be sent by Feb. 28, and businesses are also required to send a report of these sales to the Department of Revenue.
For more information, see our Marketplace Fairness webpage.
Federal income tax return
The use tax you owe is to Washington state, so you do not need this letter when filing your federal income tax return, and you cannot pay it with your federal income tax.
How to pay use tax
You can pay the use tax due on untaxed purchases by filing a Consumer Use Tax Return using one of the following methods of reporting:
- Online return (no login required): use this if you do not have an account in My DOR.
By mail, using our Consumer Use Tax Return (Fill-in form, print and mail with check)
The tax rate and location code is generally based on your home address. Use our Tax Rate Lookup Tool (online) or Tax Rate Lookup App (mobile) to find the tax rate and location code for your address. You will need the location code for your tax return.
Note: You do not need to:
- Itemize purchases under $1,000. You should report purchases in a lump sum.
- Describe or identify what you purchased. The purchase amount and a generic description is sufficient.
Use tax due dates
You can pay use tax anytime (pay as you go), but you must pay by April 1 of the following year to avoid interest and penalties.
For example, for purchases you made in 2018, use tax is due by April 1, 2019.
Note: Business must mail annual use tax notices by Feb. 28. If you do not want to pay as you go, we recommend waiting until March 1 to file in case you receive multiple letters.
Use tax exemptions
Common exemptions include: