COVID-19 sales tax relief in Washington state

COVID-19 sales tax relief in Washington state

Washingtonians have been living under a stay-at-home order since March 23, 2020, though some businesses have been closed or restricted since March 16. According to Governor Jay Inslee, the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order is unlikely to be lifted before its scheduled end on May 4. When the time comes, the easing of restrictions will be measured, “more like a turn of the dial than a flip of the switch.”

While some businesses are experiencing a surge in sales, many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. Fortunately, the state is providing some tax relief and assistance programs for businesses adversely affected by the new coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Sales tax filing and payment extensions

Quarterly and annual tax filers qualify for a filing and payment extension of business taxes, including sales tax, as well as relief from penalties and interest.

For quarterly filers, the deadline for Q1 returns is now June 30, 2020. For annual filers, the Annual 2019 return is now due June 15, 2020.

There’s no automatic filing or payment extension for monthly filers, and returns should be filed on time regardless of whether payment is made. However, monthly filers can request an extension for paying taxes, even if the request is after the due date, by sending a secure email through their MyDOR account or by calling customer service at 360-705-6705. They should include an explanation of how the COVID-19 pandemic caused the delay.

The Washington Department of Revenue will waive interest until the termination of the COVID-19 State of Emergency and stay-at-home order or May 4, 2020, which ever occurs first. Interest will begin accruing on outstanding balances at that point. That said, tax returns filed and paid by an extended due date are considered timely, so will not accrue interest.

Other aid

The department is waiving the delinquency fee of late renewals of business licenses expiring in February, March, and April. It lacks the authority to extend expiration dates.

Additionally, the department will waive penalties for nonprofit applications and renewals for exempt property for February through May 2020. Questions about local property taxes should be addressed to local county treasurers.

More information is available at the Department of Revenue Business Relief During COVID-19 Pandemic page.

Avalara’s COVID-19 tax news and resources hub is tracking tax relief efforts in other parts of the country and the world.

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