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Washington D.C. Sales Tax Guide for Businesses

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We wrote this guide for online sellers who want to know if they even have to bother with sales tax in Washington D.C., and if so, how best to tackle the sales tax situation in the United States’ Capitol.

After reading this, you’ll know:

  • Do you or don’t you need to collect Washington D.C. sales tax?
  • Which customers do you collect from?
  • How much do you collect?
  • What do you do with all the sales tax you’ve collected?
  • Way more than you probably ever wanted to know about Washington D.C. sales tax!

Do you have sales tax nexus in District of Columbia?

Good news! You only have to begin thinking about Washington D.C. sales tax if you have sales tax nexus in Washington D.C.

“Sales tax nexus” is just a fancy way of saying “significant presence” in a state.

Washington D.C. considers a seller to have sales tax nexus in the state if you have any of the following in the state:

  • having an office, place of distribution, sales or sample room or place, warehouse or storage place, or other place of business
  • having a representative, agent, salesman, canvasser, or solicitor for the purpose of making sales at retail, or the taking of orders for such sales

You can click here to read exactly what the Washington D.C. Department of Revenue (Washington D.C.’s taxing authority) has to say about what constitutes sales tax nexus in Washington D.C.

Do you have economic nexus in District of Columbia?

Threshold: Sales of $100,000 in Washington D.C., OR more than 200 transactions in the state in the previous calendar year.

Summary: According to state law, remote sellers in Washington D.C. who exceed the $100K gross sales or the 200 transactions number are required to register, collect sales tax on sales that ship to Washington D.C., and remit the sales tax to the state.

You can read guidance on the text of Washington D.C. economic nexus law here.

Effective date: January 1, 2019

Is what you’re selling taxable in District of Columbia?

You’ve probably read this far because you realized you have sales tax nexus in Washington D.C. Your next step is to determine if what you’re selling is even taxable.

Services in Washington D.C. are generally not taxable. So if you’re a freelance writer or a plumber, you’re in luck and you don’t have to worry about sales tax. But watch out – if the service you provide includes creating or manufacturing a product, you may have to deal with the sales tax on products.

Tangible products are taxable in Washington D.C. , with a few exceptions. These exceptions include certain groceries, and certain equipment sold to businesses. If you’re wondering if you need to charge sales tax on items you sell in Washington D.C. you can contact the District of Columbia Office of Tax and Revenue.

So if you sell shoes, then charge sales tax to your Washington D.C. customers.

But if you’re a graphic designer, don’t charge sales tax to your Washington D.C. customers.

If you have sales tax nexus in Washington D.C. and your products are taxable, your next step is to register for a sales tax permit.

How to Register for a Sales Tax Permit in District of Columbia

Sellers with sales tax nexus in Washington D.C. must apply for a Washington D.C. sales tax permit.

Don’t skip this step! Many states consider it unlawful to collect sales tax in their name without a permit. Go here for more on how to register for a sales tax permit in Washington D.C.

How to Collect Sales Tax in District of Columbia

So you’ve determined that you have sales tax nexus in Washington D.C. and what you’re selling is taxable. And you’re all set and registered for your Washington D.C. sales tax permit.

The next step is to determine how much sales tax to collect.

Luckily, collecting sales tax in Washington D.C. is fairly simple. There’s only one sales tax rate - 6%.

So if you have sales tax nexus in Washington D.C. and sell to a buyer in Washington you would charge them the 6% sales tax rate.

When are District of Columbia Sales Tax Returns Due?

When you file and pay Washington D.C. sales tax depends on two things: your assigned filing frequency and your state’s due dates.

How often will you file sales tax returns in Washington D.C.?

States assign you a filing frequency when you register for your sales tax permit. In most states, how often you file sales tax is based on the amount of sales tax you collect from buyers in the state.

In Washington D.C., you will be required to file and remit sales tax either monthly, quarterly or annually.

Washington D.C. sales tax returns are always due the 20th of the month following the reporting period. If the filing due date falls on a weekend or holiday, sales tax is generally due the next business day.

2021 Washington D.C. Monthly Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

2021 Washington D.C. Quarterly Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

2021 Washington D.C. Annual Sales Tax Filing Due Dates

How to File Sales Tax in District of Columbia

When it comes time to file sales tax in Washington D.C. you must do three things:

  1. Calculate how much sales tax you owe
  2. File a sales tax return
  3. Make a payment

We’ll walk you through these steps.

How to Calculate How Much Sales Tax You Owe in Washington D.C.

Calculating how much sales tax you should remit to the state of Washington D.C. is easy with TaxJar’s Washington D.C. sales tax report.

All you do is connect the channels through which you sell – including Amazon, eBay, Shopify, Square and more – and we’ll calculate exactly how much sales tax you collected. All the information you need to file your Washington D.C. sales tax return will be waiting for you in TaxJar. All you have to do is login!

How to File and Pay Sales Tax in Washington D.C.

You have three options for filing and paying your Washington D.C. sales tax:

Keep in mind that if your sales tax liability is $5,000 or greater, you are required to file and pay electronically.

Other Facts You Should Know about Washington D.C. Sales Tax Filing

There are a few more things you should know about sales tax in Washington D.C.:


  • Late Filing Penalty – 5% of tax due per month or fraction (maximum 25%)
  • Late Payment Penalty – 5% of tax due per month or fraction (maximum 25%)

Other penalties for fraud or serial offenses include higher penalties and even criminal charges.

“Zero returns”:

Many states require that any seller with a sales tax permit file a sales tax return on your due date even if you don’t have any sales tax to report or pay. Washington D.C. doesn’t explicitly state that online sellers should file a sales tax return if they haven’t collect any sales tax. Click here for a list of states that require zero sales tax returns.


Many states understand that collecting sales tax is a difficult burden on merchants, and will provide a discount to help alleviate some of this burden. Washington D.C. doesn’t provide a sales tax discount, but you can click here for more about state sales tax discounts from other states.

And that’s it. You’ve mastered Washington D.C. sales tax filing! Now that sales tax is out of the way, you can get back to what you do best – running your business.

Washington D.C. Sales Tax Resources

For more about Washington D.C. sales tax, check out the Washington D.C. section of the TaxJar blog.

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