What is Washington B&O Tax?

In the state of Washington, businesses encounter two main types of taxes: sales taxes and Business and Occupation (B&O) taxes. While both are forms of taxation, they serve different purposes and are administered differently.

Threshold language for WA B&O:


Sales Tax:

  • Sales tax is a consumption tax imposed on the sale of goods and certain services. It is typically collected by the seller at the point of sale and then remitted to the state government.
  • The sales tax rate in Washington varies depending on the location, as local jurisdictions may impose additional sales taxes on top of the state rate.
  • Sales tax is ultimately paid by the end consumer, meaning it is embedded in the final purchase price of goods or services.
  • Revenue generated from sales tax goes into the general fund of the state government and is used to fund various public services and programs.

Business and Occupation (B&O) Tax:

  • B&O tax is a gross receipts tax imposed on businesses for the privilege of doing business in the state of Washington.
  • Unlike sales tax, B&O tax is not directly tied to the sale of goods or services. Instead, it is based on the gross income of the business, regardless of whether the business is profitable or not.
  • B&O tax rates vary depending on the classification of the business activity. Different classifications have different tax rates, and some businesses may qualify for reduced rates or exemptions.
  • B&O tax is calculated on the gross receipts of the business before any deductions, such as the cost of goods sold or other business expenses.
  • Revenue generated from B&O tax is earmarked for specific purposes, such as funding transportation projects or supporting education initiatives.

Now, why are B&O taxes not included in regular sales tax?

The primary reason is that they serve different purposes and are structured differently. Sales tax is specifically levied on the sale of goods and certain services and is collected at the point of sale. Its primary function is to generate revenue for the state government based on consumer purchases.

On the other hand, B&O tax is a business tax based on gross receipts, regardless of whether a sale has occurred. It is levied on the privilege of doing business in the state and is not directly tied to sales transactions. B&O tax aims to capture revenue from businesses operating within Washington state and is used to fund various state programs and initiatives.

In summary, while both sales tax and B&O tax contribute to the state’s revenue, they operate on different principles and are administered separately to fulfill distinct purposes in the taxation system of Washington state


Can TaxCloud file my Washington B&O return?

Yes! The cost to file is $30 per return. Check out Can TaxCloud File in Non-Member SST States?

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