Washington: Sales Tax Handbook
What purchases are exempt from the Washington sales tax?
While the Washington sales tax of 6.5% applies to most transactions, there are certain items that may be exempt from taxation. This page discusses various sales tax exemptions in Washington.
Sales Tax Exemptions in Washington
Several exceptions to the Washington sales tax are the majority of agricultural farm products, producer goods (such as manufacturing machinery, fishing boat fuel, airplane computer costs, etc.), interstate sales (such as Alaska and Hawaii purchases, nonresident's rental cars, or vehicles acquired in the military), public activities(such as ferry boats and watershed and flood protection), health-related purchases (such as blood and tissue banks, prescription or over the counter drugs, or human body parts), and deferrals and credits.
Many states have special, lowered sales tax rates for certain types of staple goods - such as groceries, clothing and medicines. Restaurant meals may also have a special sales tax rate. Here are the special category rates for Washington:
These categories may have some further qualifications before the special rate applies, such as a price cap on clothing items. Groceries are generally defined as "unprepared food", while pre-prepared food may be subject to the restaurant food tax rate.
Candy and soda may be included or excluded from any preferential tax rate depending on whether or not the state considers them to be a "grocery":
Are services, shipping, installation, etc taxable in Washington?
The taxability of transactions involving services, shipping, and installation of tangible goods can be slightly complicated with various laws applying to slightly different situations. To learn more about how these transactions, and other more complicated situations, are subject to the Washington sales tax see the Washington sales taxability FAQ page.
Other tax-exempt items in Washington
This table lists a number of additional categories of goods and services that are exempt from Washington's sales tax. For a list that also shows taxable items, see the list of taxable and nontaxable items in Washington.
|Food and Meals|
|Manufacturing and Machinery|
|Medical Goods and Services|
|Newspapers and Magazines|
|General Occasional Sales||EXEMPT *|
|Optional Maintenance Contracts|
|Parts Purchased for Use in Performing Service Under Optional Maintenance Contracts||EXEMPT|
|Janitorial Services||EXEMPT *|
|Transportation Services||EXEMPT *|
|Software and Digital Products|
|Custom Software - Delivered on Tangible Media||EXEMPT|
|Custom Software - Downloaded||EXEMPT|
|Customization of Canned Software||EXEMPT|
* See notes in category taxability page for details
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