Admission Tax

Admission tax overview

Admission tax is added to the ticket price or other charge that attendees pay to enter entertainment venues or events in Seattle.

Before you host any event that charges for entry, you must have an admission tax endorsement on your business license tax certificate. If you do not have the admission tax endorsement, download and fill out the Admission Tax Application Form.

Please contact us at 206-684-8484 or tax@seattle.gov with any questions about filling out the admission tax application. We can also explain the details of collecting and filing the tax.

Tax rate

The Seattle admission tax rate is 0.05 (5%). The rate is applied to the full admission charge.

Guidelines to follow

Attendees pay the tax. But it is the organizer's responsibility to charge and collect the tax. Then, the organizer must pay the collected amount when taxes are filed. The organization is liable for the tax whether or not it is collected.

 The admission tax is often overlooked, which could result in significant penalties


You are required to pay the tax for everyone attending the event, even if some customers received their tickets free or at a reduced price. Asking customers for a voluntary contribution in lieu of an admission charge does not exempt you from paying the tax.

When you contact us about your event, provide:

  • description
  • date(s)
  • location
  • name of the landlord where the event is held

Exemption from the admission tax

If you obtain a certificate of exemption from us, then you don't have to pay admission tax. You must meet specific requirements, however, to be exempt from the admission tax. See the Music venue exemption and Nonprofit exemption tabs at the top of this page.

Read the code

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

SMC Chapter 5.40 covers the admissions tax.

Seattle business tax rule 5-900 provides further information.

Music venue exemption from admission tax

Music venues in Seattle can get a certificate of exemption for the admission tax if they meet certain requirements.

Venues that hold fewer than 1,000 people

Venues that host live music performances that hold a certificate of occupancy of fewer than 1,000 people generally may qualify for the admissions tax exemption if they:

  • Hold fewer than 1,000 people.
  • Host live music at least three days each week.
  • Host a minimum of 16 individual performances each week.
  • Stay out of legal trouble.
  • Have a current Seattle business license tax certificate.
  • Stay current on business license taxes and file quarterly live music event reports.
  • Obtain an admissions tax certificate of exemption from the City of Seattle.

Venues that hold 500 or fewer people

Starting Jan. 1, 2016, venues that host live music performances that hold a certificate of occupancy of 500 or fewer people may qualify for the admissions tax exemption if they:

  • Hold 500 or fewer people.
  • Host live music at least two days each week.
  • Stay out of legal trouble.
  • Have a current Seattle business license tax certificate.
  • Stay current on business license taxes and file an annual live music event report.
  • Obtain an admissions tax certificate of exemption from the City of Seattle.

Guidelines to follow

Once you get your certificate of exemption, you'll be required to file your Seattle business license taxes each quarter (or annually). You must verify that your business continues to meet the exemption certificate requirements outlined above.

For additional resources and information about live music in Seattle, visit the Seattle Office of Film + Music webpage.

Get Started

If you are already registered to report admission tax, download and complete the Live Music Venue Admission Tax Exemption packet.

If you are not currently registered to report admission tax, download and complete both the Admission Tax Application Form and the Live Music Venue Admission Tax Exemption packet.

Mail completed forms and requested documentation to:
City of Seattle
License and Tax Administration
ATTN: Tamiko Fujio
700 Fifth Ave., Suite 4250
P.O. Box 34214
Seattle, WA  98124-4214

Read the code

You can read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) for legal details about the admission tax exemption for music venues.

SMC Chapter 5.40.028 covers the tax exemption for music venues.

Seattle business tax rule 5-901 provides further information.

Nonprofit exemption from admission tax

Nonprofits in Seattle can get a certificate of exemption for the admission tax if they meet certain requirements.

As of Jan. 1, 2016, the nonprofit exemption will be valid for as long as the person receiving the certificate holds a business license tax certificate and remains eligible under SMC 5.40.085(A). Nonprofits that currently hold an exemption certificate that was to expire five years after the date of issuance will be issued a new exemption certificate without an expiration date.

Guidelines to follow

To qualify for the admission tax exemption, a nonprofit must maintain its nonprofit status pursuant to Section 501(c)(3), (4) or (6) of the Internal Revenue Code or be specifically exempted from the requirement to apply for tax exempt status under Sec. 501(c)(3). Additionally, the following criteria must be met for nonprofit-sponsored events to be exempt from the admission tax:

  • None of the nonprofit's income can be distributed to members, directors or officers.
  • The nonprofit must publicly sponsor the event.
  • The nonprofit must present the event at a facility it owns or leases OR perform a major portion of the performance.
  • The nonprofit must organize and receive the use and benefit of the charges collected.
  • In the case of a performance, the seating capacity of the location where the event occurs must be 3,100 or fewer people.

If your nonprofit holds an event that does not qualify to be exempt (e.g., an event at a location with a seating capacity greater than 3,100), you will be subject to the admission tax for that event and will be required to collect and remit the admission tax.

If you no longer meet the nonprofit admission tax exemption requirements you must notify the City by calling 206-684-8484. You will be provided with instructions on how to report going forward or file any past obligations.

Get Started

If you are already registered to report admission tax, download and complete the Nonprofit Admission Tax Exemption packet.

If you are not currently registered to report admission tax, download and complete both the Admission Tax Application Form and the Nonprofit Admission Tax Exemption packet.

Mail completed forms and requested documentation to:
City of Seattle
License and Tax Administration
ATTN: Tamiko Fujio
700 Fifth Ave., Suite 4250
P.O. Box 34214
Seattle, WA  98124-4214

Read the Code

You can read the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) for legal details about the admission tax exemption for nonprofits.

SMC 5.40.025(A)(11) covers the tax exemption for nonprofits.