Alaska life hack: Washington state changes sales tax exemption rules for Alaskans


Starting Monday, Alaskans shopping in Washington state won’t enjoy the easy sales tax break they have gotten for 54 years. Instead, under a new law passed by Washington legislators, they’ll have to save their receipts and apply later for the sales tax exemption by requesting a refund from the Department of Revenue.

Washington state sales tax is 6.5 percent.

The change in the tax law likely means that most out-of-state shoppers will not take the time to make that application, and that Washington will get tens of millions more in sales tax dollars. The new system also applies to those from other states that don’t have sales tax,  including Oregon, Delaware, Montana and New Hampshire, and some Canadian provinces.

Under the prior system, Alaskans filled out a form at the point of sale, and showed their Alaska ID to obtain the sales tax deduction at the cash register.

According to the Washington Department of Revenue, the refund applies to purchases of tangible personal property, digital products, or digital codes for items to be used only outside Washington State by purchasers who can prove residency in a qualifying jurisdiction.

Refunds have never been available for services such as lodging at hotels, repair services, laundry or dry cleaning, meals, personal services like tattooing or dating services, or title and escrow services.

Also exempt from tax refunds are marijuana products.

To get a refund, you’ll need to save copies of your receipts, have your proof your residency, and apply for the refund after Jan. 1, 2020 for purchases made between Monday, July 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2019. You’ll have to have paid at least $25 in Washington state sales tax to qualify. Local sales taxes are not factored into the reimbursement.

The state is banking on getting an additional $175 million into the state treasury through the middle of 2025.

[Read the State of Washington Department of Revenue’s new tax exemption rules]


  1. If the folks in Seattle could figure out a constitutional way to levy extra taxes on Alaskans, they would do it.

  2. I live for the day when I can buy something that has never seen the Peoples’ Republic of Washington.

  3. Alaska needs to pass a law that charges all WA visitors a 6.5% tax on the same taxable goods. Reciprocity in the laws I an arguments to pass a court challenge.

        • Sounds great. New fees for yearly safety inspections for all out of state fishing boats and processing plants. while we’re at it, tack on new licensing and permits for out of state crew members. It’s for their safety. While we’re at it, audit and investigate out of state fish permit holders. Like living in the north west and commercial fish Alaska? Hope you don’t mind handing over another $20,000 for that.

  4. A six month seasonal sales tax in Alaska that exempts grocery food purchases and utilities would be a good response and could generate a sizable amount of revenue to help with our budget needs.

    • Amen! This is such a sensible idea but our legislators won’t even touch any idea that has the word “tax” in it.

    • Sure….. like running water, flush toilets, free food and marijuana for the new homeless shelters?

        • Alaska has been a sanctuary state. All the Lower 48 Lefties come up here looking for government jobs. Boot em out, Dunleavy.

  5. So the Washington State government will get more money and Washington State business will get less business. A progressive dream outcome.

    • Don’t forget that almost everything that goes up to AK goes through Seattle. Think that’s going to change anytime soon?

  6. Regressives hate having to pay for services whereever they go. Give me give me give me is their mantra.

  7. How about we not blame a single city (Seattle) when in reality. This bill was passed by the state senate in Olympia in response to not only abuses from those living in WA with OR ids, but also the Federal use tax laws that were put into place in 2015. You know, the same laws that now make websites charge taxes on items based on where they are being shipped to and more than likely used. If someone living in WA can do easily get an OR id to evade WA taxes, while living and using thier purchases in WA…

  8. Way to go, WA!! This is a good way for Alaskans to get used to paying taxes. Maybe we’ll learn from WA and start taxing all of the people who visit, work and take advantage of Alaska!

  9. In a civilized society, you pay taxes for services. Not here. This state blows. I’m ready to leave and return to Washington. I hope you all freeze here. Permanently.

  10. This is terrible for business in Seattle, where we do a lot of business with Alaskan Residents who buy products here and have them shipped to Alaska, and still save money on purchases.. They don’t all want to pay an extra 10% and maybe get a tax break later if they have all their paper work, receipts and time to do the claim backs.

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