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New requirements for special event promoters in DC

 Organizing a special event in the District of Columbia? Be sure you know your tax obligations.

Starting Nov. 1, 2017, there are new requirements for special event promoters in the District of Columbia. Special events such as the fragrant National Cherry Blossom Festival and the exhilarating Nation’s Triathlon typically draw anywhere from dozens to hundreds of temporary vendors. Each must comply with the district’s sales and use tax laws, and it’s the job of the special event promoter to educate vendors of their sales and use tax obligations.

According to the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR), special events are “an uncommon, unique, noteworthy, or extra occurrence of a specific activity open to the general public and designed, advertised, or promoted for an identified purpose at which at least 50 vendors will be present.” They can be held outdoors or indoors (or both), and be in a public or private facility, but they must be held during a designated time frame. They don’t include “qualified convention or trade show activity” — although vendors at trade shows and conventions must also collect sales tax and file a Form FR-500B with the OTR.

As of Nov. 1, special event promoters hosting an event with 50 or more vendors must provide the OTR with the following:

  • A preliminary list of all participating vendors and exhibitors (with addresses, tax identification numbers, representatives, and telephone numbers) at least 30 days before the start of the event
  • A final list of participants within 10 days of the last day of the event

All documentation must be filed online through MyTax.DC.gov.


There’s a penalty of $1,000 for failure to provide the preliminary list. For each day the list is late, an additional penalty of $50 is charged (maxing out at $2,500). Failure to provide the final list will lead to a more painful penalty: $10,000. Additional information is available from the OTR.

The upcoming holiday season provides a myriad of special events for vendors in the District of Columbia and elsewhere. Understanding how sales and use tax applies in each location is a must. Learn more in this state-by-state guide for temporary vendors.

Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.