Washington Sales Tax Audit Appeals Washington: Sales Tax Handbook


How to appeal a sales tax audit or penalty in Washington

In Washington, the Department of Revenue will frequently audit business sales tax returns and may issue penalties or punishments for tardy filing, incorrect reporting, willful omissions, or other violations. Penalties can range from fines to revocation of your sales tax permit depending on the infraction.

If you disagree with a penalty or ruling made by the Washington Department of Revenue, you have several options you can pursue in appealing their decision. This page contains basic guidelines for appealing to the Department of Revenue, to an administrative appeal body, and through the courts.

Sales Tax Statute of Limitations in Washington

In sales tax law, the "statute of limitations" is the maximum amount of time state authorities have to investigate and begin potential audit or prosecution related to a a filed Washington sales tax return in the event of underpayment, incorrect reportings, etc. The Department of Revenue cannot begin an audit or issue a penalty after this timeframe.

The statute of limitations in Washington is four years from the end of the tax year that the liability became an issue. This stature does not apply to any taxpayer who is not registered, has enacted a written waiver of the limitation, or who has committed misrepresentation or fraud.

Appealing to the Department of Revenue in Washington

If you do not agree with a penalty or decision made by the Washington Department of Revenue, you have the right to file an appeal and ask for reconsideration. In the case of a department appeal, an official petition must be filed with the Department of Revenue in the last thirty days after issuance of notice of assessment. If the request is within the time limit, the taxpayer may ask for a time extension.


Administrative Sales Tax Appeals in Washington

In the case of administrative appeal, an official petition must be filed with Board of Tax Appeals within thirty days days after the mailing notice of decision


Judicial Sales Tax Appeals in Washington

If all other appeal avenues fail, businesses can make a final appeal in the state court system. An appeal of a Board of Tax Appeals decision must be filed with the Superior Court within thirty days after the decision. For a tax refund, the appeal must be filed to the superior court of Thurston county, within the time limitation for a refund provided in chapter 82.32 RCW or, if the application for a refund has been made to the department within that time limitation, then within the thirty days following the rejection of the application, whichever date is later

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