Business license taxes

The Seattle business license tax is applied to the gross revenue that businesses earn. It is sometimes called the Seattle business and occupation tax (B&O tax) or gross receipts tax. Depending on your situation, filing your Seattle taxes may be relatively simple or fairly complex.

The Seattle business license tax is not the same as the Washington state B&O tax. You must file your Seattle taxes separately from your state taxes. To learn more about the state B&O tax, visit the Washington State Department of Revenue.

Overview

If you do business in Seattle, you must:

  • have a Seattle business license
  • file a business license tax return

You pay the tax if your annual taxable gross revenue is $100,000 or more. You can file and pay online using a credit card or an electronic check (e-check). Please note: There may be a fee to file electronically.

You do not pay the tax if your annual taxable gross revenue is less than $100,000 or if you have no business activity for the year. You are still required, however, to report your gross revenue, even if zero, to the City of Seattle. In this case you can file online or over the phone. To file, call 206-684-8484 and follow the voice prompts. You will need your customer number and obligation number.

Tax rate

The Seattle business license tax rate varies by business type. For more information, see tax rates and classifications.

How the tax works

Your gross revenue determines the amount of tax you pay. To calculate this amount, multiply your taxable gross revenue amount by the tax rate.

For example, the 2016 retail sales tax rate is 0.00215 (.215%). So for a taxable gross revenue amount of:

  • $100,000, the business pays $215.
  • $1,000,000, the business pays $2,150 and so forth.

Read the code

You can read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) for legal details about the Seattle business license tax.

SMC Chapter 5.45 covers the business license tax.

Seattle business tax rule 5-006 provides further information.

Due dates

The date your taxes are due depends on your reporting status. Your reporting status indicates how often you are required to file taxes and is listed on your business license. You can also find it online by accessing your FileLocal account. If you do not know your reporting status, contact us.

This table summarizes Seattle business license tax due dates for each reporting status:

Reporting statusPeriodTax return due date
Annually Calendar year ends Dec. 31 Jan. 31
Quarterly 1st quarter ends March 31 April 30
2nd quarter ends June 30 July 31
3rd quarter ends Sept. 30 Oct. 31
4th quarter ends Dec. 31 Jan. 31
Monthly March 31, for example Last day of the following month: April 30, for example

Late fees and interest

You pay a penalty fee for filing taxes after the due date. The penalty fee increases the longer you wait to file.

NOTICE: Effective Aug. 1, 2015, penalty rates for late tax payments are increasing. New rates are reflected in the table below. For more information about the penalty increase, see the "About the penalty increase" section below.

Tax return filedLate fee amount ($5 minimum)
1st month after the due date 9% of tax owed (previously 5%)
2nd month after the due date 19% of tax owed (previously 15%)
3rd month after the due date or anytime after 29% of tax owed (previously 25%)

In addition to late fees, you must also pay interest if you file late. Interest accrues from the due date until the date paid. The interest due is equal to:

(interest rate / 360) x (tax owed amount) x (number of days late)

You will not be charged a late fee or interest if you do not owe any tax. But you must still file a tax return.

About the penalty increase

A mandatory change under Senate Bill 6138 requires municipalities to adopt increased penalty rates. Second quarter 2015 tax returns mailed out in late June reflect the old penalty rates. If a business pays an old penalty rate, we will mail a notice for the additional amount due.

If you have any questions, please call our general information hotline at 206-684-8484 or email tax@seattle.gov.

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You do not need to fill out a hard-copy form if you file taxes online.

For more information about filing online, see Manage your account online.

If you choose not to file your taxes online, we will send you a blank tax form. Do not reuse an old tax form to file. We cannot process old tax forms because each uses a unique bar code.

If you need a blank business license tax form, please fill out the form below or contact us directly at 206-684-8484 or tax@seattle.gov, and we will mail or fax you a form.

What is your customer number?
*

What is the business's LEGAL name?
*

Period for which form is requested.
*

Type of tax form(s) requested.
*

What is your fax # (if request is to fax forms)?
 

Who is making this request (provide your name)?
*

What is your daytime phone number?
*

What is your email address?
*

Need to give us additional information?

We will fax or email a tax form for the period requested on the first business day after receiving this notice. Thank you.