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Washington Restaurants and Sales Tax


The Washington Department of Revenue published an online guide to help restaurants comply with Washington sales tax law

The guide covers a wide array of topics including:

  • An overview of common applicable taxes;
  • How different business types should treat sales tax; and
  • Sales tax on other types of income besides prepared food.

One of the key points noted in the guide is that while Washington exempts most "grocery type food" from sales tax, it does not exempt prepared food. According to the guide, "Most food restaurants sell falls within the definition of prepared food or soft drinks and is therefore taxable."

The guide also highlights that the taxability of employee meals changed on July 1, 2011. Since that date, complimentary meals provided to restaurant employees are exempt from sales and use tax. However, meals sold to employees remain taxable. This change differs from Nevada, which has denied requests by Casinos to refund use tax collected on complimentary meals for employees.

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Avalara Author
Will Frei
Avalara Author Will Frei
Will Frei covers sales tax news including best practices, legislation and sales tax technology. He is the Social Media Manager at Avalara.