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Overview

The first step toward proper management of Washington sales tax involves getting registered with the Washington Department of Revenue. We get a lot of questions regarding this and recognize it may be the most difficult hurdle for small businesses to overcome. Registering to collect sales tax in Washington means you’ve acknowledged your legal responsibility to collect and consequently file and remit sales tax to the state.

When do I need to register to collect sales tax in Washington?

There are two ways to think about this question. The first involves a topic called “nexus”. Nexus, in the tax world refers to a company’s connection to a state. While this connection is typically that of a physical nature (warehouse in the Washington, inventory in Washington, etc.), nexus is not limited to a physical presence. There are many nexus triggers we won’t delve into here and, more importantly, nexus is often determined by a combination of events rather than a single event.

If it is determined you have nexus in Washington, the Washington Department of Revenue has the legal right to require you to collect, file, and pay sales tax.

If you’ve determined you have nexus in Washington, the second question involves a topic we call “materiality”. In short, you’ll want to ask yourself whether the amount of sales tax you are required to collect and remit to the Washington Department of Revenue enough to put you at an unnacceptable level of penalty and interest risk? As everyone’s level of risk tolerance is different, this is a question that can only be answered by you, the business owner.

Prior to selling taxable goods or offering taxable services in Washington, a business that has established nexus within the state is required to register for an Certificate of Registration.

What triggers nexus in Washington?

Nexus is a complex topic that, depending on your situation, may require the in-depth knowledge of a qualified tax professional. That being said, there are a few common business events and situations that are known to trigger nexus in Washington. The most common include the following:

  • Opening an office in Washington
  • Storing inventory in a warehouse in Washington
  • Having remote employees located in Washington

How do I register to collect sales tax in Washington

Businesses may register for an Washington Certificate of Registration online by visiting the Washington Department of Revenue and following the instructions provided.

It is also possible to get registered for a Certificate of Registration by completing and mailing in a Business License Application (BLS-700-028), but this approach is not recommended. Form based registration is being phased out in favor of online registration. It’s fast, free, and more reliable than mailing in a completed paper form.

How much does it cost to register for a Washington Certificate of Registration ?

The cost to register for a Washington Certificate of Registration is currently $0.

Do I need a Federal EIN in order to register in Washington?

The Washington Department of Revenue requires businesses requesting a new Certificate of Registration to supply a valid Federal EIN number during the initial registration process. You can apply for an EIN number online by visiting the IRS website.

Which Washington governement agencies do I need to register with in order to get a new Certificate of Registration?

We recommend you contact the Washington Department of Revenue to verify which government agencies you will be required to register with. Potential agencies include the following:

  • Washington Department of Revenue
  • Washington State Employment Agency
  • Washington State Department of Labor
  • Washington Local Tax Jurisdictions

Do I need to register for a new Certificate of Registration if I acquired a registered business?

Yes! Washington Certificate of Registration registration is unique to the state of a business. The Washington Department of Revenue requires all registered businesses to have current business owner name and contact information on file.