Washington State Department of Revenue releases tax exemption report with interactive tool

Want to find out more about the state’s tax exemptions? Check out the Washington State Department of Revenue’s (Revenue) 2016 Exemptions Study, a compilation of tax exemptions, credits and preferential tax rates.

The study, released every four years, includes a detailed listing of the 694 exemptions for the major state and local taxes in Washington. The study shows the total estimated taxpayer savings of the exemption, the estimated amount in taxes the state would keep if the exemption was repealed, and the taxpayer savings versus the forecasted revenue collections from those taxes.

This year, the study debuts a way to interact with the exemption data online using this visualization tool. With a click of the mouse, users can inspect exemptions by the year they were enacted, the type of tax and preference, the category and more. This is the first time Revenue has paired this kind of technology with an agency report.

“This new tool provides our customers with an easy, different and exciting way to look at the details of the state’s exemptions,” Revenue Director Vikki Smith said. “I’m pleased we are able to offer our customers this kind of service.”

Some highlights from the study:

  • The total estimated taxpayer savings of the 694 exemptions is $105.9 billion in 2015-17.

  • About one-third of the state impact is from retail sales and use tax exemptions, at 33.5 percent. The largest sales and use tax exemptions are for personal and professional services and food or food products.

  • Property tax exemptions make up the largest portion – an estimated $59.1 billion ‑ of the total taxpayer savings (including state and local) in 2015-17.

  • Business and occupation (B&O) taxes make up a large portion of the state impact at almost 22.6 percent. The largest B&O exemption is the exclusion of employee salary and wages, which restricts the B&O tax to business.