Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Should I charge Washington state sales tax for computer programming,web design? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Should I charge Washington state sales tax for computer programming,web design?
Category: Business and Money > Accounting
Asked by: atherix-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 11 Apr 2006 15:50 PDT
Expires: 11 May 2006 15:50 PDT
Question ID: 717986
I am currently living in Washington state and had a question regarding
sales tax on services. I am a computer programmer & web designer and
need to know if I should be charging my Washington state customers the
state & local sales taxes. A few other designers in town are charging
the sales tax. Is it pretty standard to charge sales tax for these
type of services? Of is it more of a CYA move?
Subject: Re: Should I charge Washington state sales tax for computer programming,web design?
Answered By: efn-ga on 11 Apr 2006 22:35 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi atherix,

In my nonprofessional opinion, you need not charge your customers sales tax.

Sales tax is to be charged on the "selling price of tangible personal
property and certain services purchased at retail, i.e. by consumers."


Section 82.04.050 of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) spells out
what transactions are considered retail sales and therefore subject to
the tax.  Paragraph (6) says:

"The term shall also include the sale of prewritten computer software
other than a sale to a person who presents a resale certificate under
RCW 82.04.470, regardless of the method of delivery to the end user,
but shall not include custom software or the customization of
prewritten computer software."


"The term" here refers to "the term 'sale at retail' or 'retail sale'"
in paragraph (3).  So assuming you are providing custom software or
the customization of prewritten software, your services are not
subject to sales tax.  (Of course, if you sell, say, Windows XP in a
retail box, that is another story.)

The chapter of the RCW that deals with retail sales tax is chapter
82.08.  Paragraph (6) of section 82.08.010 on Definitions refers to
chapter 82.04, cited above, for the definitions of "sale at retail"
and "retail sale."

I can't give you an opinion on local sales tax without knowing the
locality involved, but I think it is unlikely to be applied in a way
that is inconsistent with the state sales tax.

Additional Links

Washington State Department of Revenue Tax Reference Manual 2005

The section of this Tax Reference Manual on retail sales tax lists
"customized computer software" under "EXAMPLES OF EXEMPTIONS - OTHER
ITEMS," meaning it is not taxable.

The Department of Revenue's main page on the Retail Sales Tax has a
list of services that are taxable.  None of them looks similar to what
you do.

Important Disclaimer

Google Answers does not provide professional legal or tax advice.

I hope this is a satisfactory answer to your question.  If you need
any further information about this, please ask for a clarification.

atherix-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
A well-thought out answer. This is in line with conversations I've had
with colleagues and my own research. Thank you!

Subject: Re: Should I charge Washington state sales tax for computer programming,web design?
From: cynthia-ga on 16 Apr 2006 01:42 PDT
Efn is correct. I live in Washington and know of this page relating to
Internet Businesses:

Services performed in Washington
..."Many Internet businesses provide or perform services rather than
sell tangible personal property, for instance, web design businesses.
Income earned from providing services over the Internet is generally
subject to service and other activities B&O tax if the service is
performed in Washington. In such cases, the customer's location does
not matter..."

Just another resource..

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy