Sales Tax Fundamentals
Get up to speed on the basics of sales tax
How to Register for a Sales Tax Permit in Washington State
byJune 26, 2014
Last updated July 17, 2017
For more information about collecting and remitting sales tax in Washington, check out Washington Sales Tax Resources.
1. Who needs a sales tax permit in Washington?
From the Washington State Department of Revenue website:
- Generally, a retail sale is the sale of tangible personal property. It is also the sale of services such as installation, repair, cleaning, altering, improving, construction, and decorating. Other services include improving real or personal property, amusement and recreational activities, lawn maintenance, and physical fitness activities.
- Retail sales tax includes the state and local components of the tax.
- Sales tax amounts collected are considered trust funds and must be remitted to the Department of Revenue.
- The seller is liable to the Department of Revenue for sales tax, whether or not it is collected.
- Use tax is paid by the consumer when the retail sales tax was not collected by the seller/service provider.
- Businesses that make a purchase for resale must provide a reseller permit to the seller. If not, the seller must charge the buyer retail sales tax on the total purchase.
- Businesses also pay the retail sales tax on purchases of items for their own use (such as supplies or equipment) that will not be resold in the regular course of business.
Similarly, when a business purchases a retailing service for its own use, it must pay sales tax on the purchase.
2. How do you register for a sales tax permit in Washington?
The state of Washington has a website specifically for attaining your business license and permits, including sales tax. Head to the Business License Application to get started.
If you’d rather do things the old-fashioned paper way, first download and print out the Business License Application. Gather up your applicable fees (the state of Washington requires a $19 non-refundable fee for every business registered, but not necessarily for sales tax) and send everything to:
State of Washington
Business Licensing Service
PO Box 9034
Olympia, WA 98507-9034
3. What information do you need to register or a sales tax permit in Washington?
- Purpose of application
- Ownership structure
- Business name
- Owners & spouses
- Business info including location, business activities, bank name, etc.
- Employment/Elective Coverage
4. How much does it cost to apply for a sales tax permit in Washington?
If you’re registering your business for the first time, it will cost $19. However, sales tax alone doesn’t necessarily cost anything. Other business registration fees may apply. Contact each state’s individual department of revenue for more about registering your business.
5. How long does it take to receive your Washington sales tax permit?
If you file online, it will be 1 to 2 days for your application to go through. It may take up to 21 days if you file by mail, however.
6. Do you have to renew your Washington sales tax permit?
Business licenses must be renewed in Washington state.
From the website:
License expiration date
An expiration date is printed on the top right-hand corner of your Business License document. Business Licensing Service will send you a renewal notice approximately 45 days before your license expires. It’s your responsibility to renew on time, whether you receive the renewal form or not.
7. Do I still need a Washington sales tax permit if I only sell on Amazon FBA?
Amazon announced that on January 1, 2018 they will begin collecting Washington sales tax on behalf of 3rd party sellers who sell on the Amazon platform. While this means that Amazon will collect and remit sales tax, Amazon FBA sellers with nexus in the state of Washington (See #1 above) will still be required to hold a valid Washington sales tax permit, file sales tax returns by the due date, and pay Washington’s B&O tax. You can read more about what Amazon collecting Washington sales tax means for Amazon FBA sellers here.
8. How can I learn more about Washington sales tax?
- Read our Washington Guide for Businesses
- Find the best contact number to call the Washington Department of Revenue
- Got questions? Ask our vetted list of sales tax experts
Would you prefer a tax professional handle your sales tax registration? Fill out our State Registrations form and we’ll put you in touch with a vetted sales tax pro.