The State of WA Is Getting Trashy with Sellers About Litter Tax

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We’ve received a number of calls recently from seller’s who have been contacted by the state of Washington for failing to register and pay the litter tax. The rate is only .00015 or .015 percent, but it can add up over time especially for large sellers. However, the sellers I have spoken with are more upset over the headaches of having to deal with another tax rather than the amount of money that WA was looking for. Especially since every seller I have been contacted by is a remote seller.

What is the Litter Tax

The litter tax (WAC 458-20-243) applies to thirteen categories of products and is imposed on manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. The litter tax is paid on the excise tax return which is the same return used to pay the sales tax and the business and occupation tax.  The thirteen categories are:

  • food for human or pet consumption

  • groceries

  • cigarettes and tobacco products

  • soft drinks and carbonated beverages

  • beer and other malt beverages

  • wine

  • newspapers and magazines

  • household paper and paper products

  • glass containers

  • metal containers

  • plastic or fiber containers made of synthetic material

  • cleaning agents and toiletries

  • non-drug drugstore sundry items

Food consumed at a seller's place of business is generally exempt from the litter tax.

Having Your Cake and Eating it Too.

Two of the sellers who contacted me sold dietary supplements. I found this a little strange at first as I did not think that dietary supplements fit into any of the 13 categories. My initial thinking was that dietary supplements were specifically excluded from the sales tax food exemption, so why would they be considered food for the litter tax. I then remembered that we are dealing with states and sales tax so I should never assume anything. After I did a little digging I found that supplements are indeed not considered food for the sales tax exemption, but they are considered food for the litter tax. This is a great example of the state having its cake and eating it too.

The funds are used by Department of Ecology for a litter control program employing youth to clean up public places, and for public education and awareness programs relating to litter control and recycling.

So if you sell products in any of the 13 categories chances  are you are subject to the litter tax. If so your will want to be proactive before WA reaches out to your. If your have any questions on the litter tax or any other state and local tax issue your can reach us at

Michael Fleming