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Washington High Unemployment Sales Tax Deferral

  • Jun 22, 2012 | Will Frei

The Washington Department of Revenue updated the list of counties that qualify for the High Unemployment County Sales and Use Tax Deferral Program, effective July 1, 2012. 

High Unemployment County Sales and Use Tax Program

The program offers sales tax incentives to certain businesses that operate in approved counties or Community Empowerment Zones, or CEZs. Such businesses can defer sales and use tax on qualifying purchases. The Department of Revenue will waive the deferred tax when ". . . all of the program requirements have been met and verified."


To participate in the program a business must:

  • "Be located in a qualified county or a CEZ.
  • Be engaged in manufacturing activities, the conditioning of vegetable seeds, or activities performed by research and development laboratories, or commercial testing laboratories.
  • Invest in one or both of the following activities:
    • The construction of new structures or expansion or renovation of existing structures to increase floor space or production capacity used for the qualifying activities.
    • The purchase of new industrial and research fixtures, equipment, and support facilities that are integral to the manufacturing or research and development operation."

For a complete list of requirements on expenses qualifying for the program see the Department's Special Notice Bulletin.

Updated List of Qualifying Counties

A county may qualify for the High Unemployment County Sales and Use Tax Program if it has an unemployment rate ". . .  that is at least 20 percent above the state average for the three calendar years immediately proceeding the year in which the list is published or updated."

This list of eligible counties is updated every two years. The Department notes that counties can lose their eligibility, so not all of the counties on this list will necessarily appear on the next updated list. However, CEZs have ". . . a continuous eligible status . . . ."

Eligible counties for the period between July 1, 2012 and June 20, 2014 include:

  • Clark
  • Cowlitz
  • Ferry
  • Grays Harbor
  • Lewis
  • Pacific
  • Pend Oreille
  • Skamania
  • Stevens
  • Wahkiakum

CEZs include:

  • Bremerton
  • Duwamish
  • Spokane
  • Tacoma
  • White Center
  • Yakima


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Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
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.