Did you know that Washington state has one of the highest sales tax rates in the country? If you’re a Washington resident, you’re already aware of the extra chunk of change that gets added to your purchases every time you hit the checkout line. Whether it’s a pack of gum or a new car, sales tax is added on top of the price tag, and it can add up quickly.
Currently, Washington state’s sales tax rate is 6.5% – but that’s not the only tax you’ll encounter. Depending on the city and county you’re shopping in, you may be subject to additional local taxes. In some areas, the total sales tax can be as high as 10.4%! That means that a $100 purchase can cost you over $110, and that’s not even factoring in any other fees or charges that may be added on.
As you can see, sales tax can make a big impact on your shopping budget in Washington state. It’s important to be aware of the rates in your area and take them into account when making purchases. So next time you’re out and about, keep your eye on the total cost – you may be surprised at just how much that sales tax can add up.
Washington State Sales Tax Rate
The Washington state sales tax rate is currently 6.5% as of January 2021. However, the total tax rate can be higher due to local taxes imposed by cities, counties, and regional transit authorities.
- City taxes: Local cities can impose a sales tax on top of the state tax rate. For example, Seattle has a city sales tax rate of 3.6%, making the total sales tax rate in Seattle 10.1%.
- County taxes: Some counties in Washington also impose additional sales taxes, with rates ranging from 0.1% to 0.9%. For instance, the total sales tax rate in King County is currently 10.4% due to its county tax of 0.1%.
- Regional transit authorities: In addition to city and county taxes, certain regional transit authorities like Sound Transit and Regional Transit Authority impose their own sales tax rates. For instance, the total sales tax rate in Bellevue is 10.2% due to Sound Transit’s tax of 1.1%.
It’s important to note that some items, like groceries and prescription drugs, are exempt from sales tax in Washington state. Additionally, there are some temporary tax exemptions or reductions for specific purchases, like electric vehicle purchases or affordable housing projects. It’s always a good idea to check with the Washington State Department of Revenue for the most up-to-date information on sales taxes.
Below is a table that shows the current sales tax rates for select cities and counties in the state of Washington:
|Total Sales Tax Rate
As you can see from the table, sales tax rates can vary greatly depending on your location. Make sure to check the sales tax rate in your area before making a purchase to avoid any surprises at the register.
Exemptions to Sales Tax in Washington State
As with any tax system, there are always exemptions and special rules that apply. In Washington state, there are several exemptions to the sales tax that taxpayers should be aware of in order to avoid paying unnecessary taxes.
- Food and beverages for home consumption
- Prescription drugs and certain medical supplies
- Baby diapers, pants, and inserts
Nonprofit and Charitable Organizations
Nonprofit and charitable organizations can also receive exemptions from sales tax on certain purchases. These organizations must be qualified as exempt under Washington state law and have a valid exemption certificate on file with the state.
Nonprofit organizations can receive exemptions for purchases related to fundraising, such as auction items, and for purchases used directly in their mission, such as office supplies or equipment. Charitable organizations can receive exemptions for purchases related to charitable purposes, such as food or clothing donations.
Tax Exempt Entity Purchases
Tax-exempt entities, such as government agencies and educational institutions, are exempt from sales tax when making purchases for official business purposes. Entities must provide the vendor with an exemption certificate or make the purchase using a state purchasing card to qualify for the exemption.
|Exempt for official business purposes
|Exempt for official business purposes, including books and supplies for students
Taking advantage of exemptions can be a great way to reduce tax obligations and keep more money in your pockets. Knowing the sales tax exemption rules in Washington state can help individuals and organizations achieve financial savings.
Sales tax on online purchases in Washington state
In 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that allowed states to require online retailers to collect sales tax, even if they don’t have a physical presence in the state. This ruling gave Washington state the authority to tax out-of-state sellers who make sales to customers in Washington state.
- As of July 2019, online retailers are required to collect a sales tax rate of 6.5% in Washington state.
- The sales tax on online purchases in Washington state is the same as the sales tax on in-store purchases.
- Washington state does not have a sales tax exemption for online purchases.
It’s important to note that the requirement to collect sales tax on online purchases extends to businesses making sales to customers in Washington state, regardless of where the business is located. This means that if a business in Oregon makes a sale to a customer in Washington state, they must collect the 6.5% sales tax.
Furthermore, there are also different sales tax rates for certain types of products and services in Washington state. For example, there is an additional sales tax rate of 0.5% for lodging and a rate of 2.5% for prepared food and beverages.
|Product or service type
|Sales tax rate
|General sales and use
|Prepared food and beverages
It’s important for consumers and businesses alike to understand the sales tax requirements in Washington state, especially as more and more purchases are made online. By staying informed and aware, everyone can contribute to the smooth functioning of the state’s economy.
Method of calculating sales tax in Washington state
Calculating sales tax in Washington state may seem complicated at first, but once you understand the process, it becomes relatively straightforward. There are a few key things to keep in mind when calculating sales tax:
- The statewide sales tax rate in Washington is 6.5%.
- Local sales tax rates vary by city and county and can range from 0.5% to 4%.
- Sales tax is calculated based on the total price of the item, including any shipping and handling charges.
In order to calculate the total sales tax in Washington state, you need to know the combined state and local sales tax rate for the area in which the purchase is made. You can look up the local sales tax rate for your area on the Washington State Department of Revenue’s website. Once you have the total sales tax rate, you can use the following formula to calculate the total amount of sales tax:
Total sales tax = Total price of item x Sales tax rate
For example, let’s say you purchase a $100 item in Seattle, where the local sales tax rate is 3.6%. The total sales tax rate for Seattle would be 10.1%, which includes the statewide sales tax rate. Therefore, the total amount of sales tax you would owe on the $100 item would be:
Total sales tax = $100 x 0.101 = $10.10
It’s important to note that some items may be exempt from sales tax in Washington state, such as groceries, prescription drugs, and certain types of clothing. In addition, certain businesses may also be eligible for tax exemptions or reductions. If you have any questions about the sales tax rate or exemptions in Washington state, you can contact the Washington State Department of Revenue for more information.
|State Sales Tax Rate
|Local Sales Tax Rate
|Total Sales Tax Rate
The table above shows the state sales tax rate and local sales tax rates for three cities in Washington state. As you can see, the total sales tax rate varies significantly by location, so it’s important to know the local sales tax rate when calculating sales tax for a purchase.
Differences between sales tax and use tax in Washington
When it comes to taxes, some people may confuse sales tax and use tax, and it is understandable because they are both related to purchasing goods and services. In Washington state, understanding the differences between these two taxes is crucial, especially for business owners and consumers.
- Sales tax is a tax on retail purchases imposed by the state and local governments. It is calculated as a percentage of the sale price of taxable goods, and the tax rate varies by jurisdiction. In Washington, the sales tax rate ranges from 6.5% to 10.5%, depending on the location of the sale.
- On the other hand, use tax is a tax on the use of goods and services purchased from out-of-state retailers. It is levied by the state government, and it is equivalent in rate and scope to the sales tax. Washington residents may owe use tax if they purchase taxable items from out-of-state vendors that do not collect Washington sales tax.
- One notable difference between sales tax and use tax is who is responsible for paying the tax. With sales tax, the seller of the goods or services is required to collect and remit the tax to the state and local governments. With use tax, the buyer is responsible for reporting and paying the tax directly to the state.
As you can see, sales tax and use tax have some similarities and differences that should not be ignored. It is important to stay informed on the latest changes to tax legislation and how they may impact your business or personal finances.
How much is sales tax in Washington state?
In Washington state, the sales tax rate varies depending on the location of the sale. The state has one of the highest average combined state and local sales tax rates in the nation, at 9.23%, according to the Tax Foundation.
|Sales Tax Rate
|Grays Harbor County
|Pend Oreille County
|San Juan County
|Walla Walla County
Be sure to check the sales tax rate for the area in which you are making a purchase to calculate the total amount of tax owed.
Sales Tax Audit Process in Washington State
Sales tax audits are conducted by the Washington State Department of Revenue to ensure that businesses comply with the state’s sales tax laws. Businesses can be audited for various reasons, such as failing to file tax returns, understating taxable sales, or not collecting or remitting the correct amount of tax.
- Notice of Audit: Businesses that are selected for audit will receive a Notice of Audit from the Department of Revenue. The notice will identify the tax periods to be audited and the information that the auditor will need to review.
- Opening Conference: The auditor will schedule an opening conference with the business to discuss the audit process, the records that will be reviewed, and the deadlines for submitting information to the Department of Revenue.
- Document Review: The auditor will review the business’s records, which may include sales invoices, purchase receipts, bank statements, and general ledger entries. The auditor will compare the information in the records with the amounts reported on the business’s tax returns and will look for any discrepancies.
After the document review process, the auditor will prepare a report that details the adjustments that need to be made to the business’s tax returns for the audit period. The report will also show any penalties and interest that the business may owe.
It’s important for businesses to keep accurate and complete records and to comply with all sales tax laws to avoid being audited. In the event of an audit, businesses should cooperate with the auditor and provide all requested information in a timely manner.
|Failure to file a return or pay tax:
|1% per month or fraction thereof until paid
|Filing a fraudulent return:
|25% of the tax due
|Failure to remit tax collected:
|5% of the tax due or $5, whichever is greater, for each month of delinquency
Businesses that disagree with the results of an audit can request a review by the Department of Revenue. If the issue is not resolved at the department level, the business can file an appeal in state court.
How to File Sales Tax Returns in Washington State
When it comes to filing sales tax returns in Washington state, there are several things you need to be aware of to ensure that your business remains compliant with state law. Below are some tips to help you get started:
Important Things to Know About Sales Tax in Washington State
- The current sales tax rate in Washington state is 6.5%.
- In addition to the state sales tax, there may be local sales taxes that also need to be collected and remitted. The total combined sales tax rate in Washington can range from 7.0% to 10.5%.
- Businesses are responsible for collecting and remitting sales tax to the state.
- Sales tax returns are due on the 25th day of the month following the reporting period.
- Even if you had no sales during the reporting period, you still need to file a sales tax return indicating that fact.
- Failure to file and pay sales tax on time can result in penalties and interest charges.
- Washington state offers an online portal for businesses to file and pay sales tax returns. If you prefer to file by mail, forms are also available for download on the Department of Revenue’s website.
Steps to File Sales Tax Returns in Washington State
To file your sales tax return in Washington state, follow these steps:
- Create an account on the Washington State Department of Revenue’s website.
- Use the online portal to file your sales tax return, or download and complete the necessary forms if you prefer to file by mail.
- Calculate the sales tax due and make payment through the online portal or by mail.
- Ensure that you file and pay your sales tax returns on time to avoid penalties and interest charges.
Sales Tax Return Filing Frequency in Washington State
The frequency with which you need to file sales tax returns in Washington state depends on how much sales tax you collect each year. The following table outlines the different filing frequencies:
|Annual Sales Tax Liability
|$0 to $1,499
|$1,500 to $11,999
|$12,000 or more
It’s important to note that these thresholds are based on your sales tax liability, not your total gross sales. If your business exceeds the threshold in a reporting period, you’ll need to file your sales tax return with the corresponding frequency for the following reporting period.
FAQs about How Much is Sales Tax in Washington State
1. What is the sales tax rate in Washington state?
The current sales tax rate in Washington state is 6.5%.
2. Is there an additional local sales tax in Washington state?
Yes, there may be additional local sales taxes in certain cities and counties in Washington state. This can range from 0.5% to 4.5% depending on the location.
3. Is there a sales tax on food in Washington state?
Yes, there is a sales tax on food in Washington state, but some basic food items such as certain grocery items, baby formula and medical foods items may be exempted from the sales tax.
4. Is there a sales tax on clothing in Washington state?
Yes, there is a sales tax on clothing in Washington state, but any clothing purchase that is under $100, footwear purchases under $60, and any purchase of feminine hygiene products, or used clothing are excluded from sales tax.
5. Are sales tax rates the same throughout Washington state?
No, sales tax rates can vary by location even in a same county. Be sure to check the sales tax rate applicable in your location.
6. Can I get a refund for sales tax paid on items I returned?
Yes, if sales tax was paid on items you returned, you may be entitled to a refund. Contact the seller for the refund process.
We hope this article helps you understand how sales tax works in Washington state. Remember to always check the sales tax rate in your location and stay informed about any changes. Thank you for reading and please visit back for more useful information.