Does my law firm need to pay a use tax?
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
What is use tax in Washington?
Use tax is a tax on the use of goods or certain services in Washington when sales tax has not been paid.
Goods used in this state are subject to either sales or use tax, but not both. Thus, the use tax compensates when sales tax has not been paid.
When is use tax due?
Use tax is due if:
Goods are purchased in another state that does not have a sales tax or a state with a sales tax lower than Washington’s. For example, items you purchase in Oregon that are used in Washington are subject to use tax.
Goods are purchased from someone who is not authorized to collect sales tax. For example, purchases of furniture from an individual through a newspaper classified ad or a purchase of artwork from an individual collector.
Goods are purchased out of state by subscription, through the Internet, or from a mail order catalog company. Many of these companies collect Washington’s sales tax, but if the company from which you order does not, you owe the use tax.
Personal property is acquired with the purchase of real property.
How do I pay use tax?
Use tax is determined on the value of the goods when first used in Washington. Generally, this is the purchase price. However, a depreciated value may be determined if the goods are used outside the state for a lengthy time before use in Washington by the same person. Use tax is also due on any freight, delivery, or shipping charges paid to the seller.
The use tax rate is the same as your sales tax rate. To determine the correct rate for your area, check out our Local Sales Tax Rates or try our Tax Rate Lookup Tool. Use tax, unlike sales tax, is due at the rate where you first use the article, not where the sale takes place.
To pay use tax
By paper: Complete and mail a Consumer Use Tax Return. (pdf)
Note: Businesses are encouraged to report use tax for business-related purchases on their next excise tax return.