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Sales tax exemption work in Washington state

Jan 25, 2017
Keeping professional car washes affordable to reduce stormwater pollution is the idea behind a legislative effort being mounted by the Puget Sound Car Wash Association. The PSCWA is seeking an exemption from state retail sales tax for all professional car washes in Washington State.  As of this writing, bill language has been drafted and a sponsor is being sought for this legislation.
Washington State has the fifth highest sales tax rate in the country.  This sales tax exemption will help keep car washes affordable, and more cars washed at car washes means healthier water systems at very little cost compared to other resources directed towards clean water in Washington State, where car washes contribute only .0008% of sales tax revenue collected each year.
Approval of a sales tax exemption will bring Washington State in line with 29 states that have some sort of exemption for car washes, out of the 45 states that have retail sales taxes.
The Washington State legislature has a long history of granting sales tax exemptions to a variety of services and products, so long as those exemptions achieve a meaningful purpose. Many exemptions have been aimed at encouraging specific tax payer behavior. Both the EPA and DOE recommend that citizens utilize professional car wash facilities to reduce substantial pollutants into the state’s waterways.
Costs for car wash operators continue to escalate due to the need to comply with increasing environmental standards, rising utility costs, reduced access to water treatment facilities, and government mandated labor concessions.  The PSCWA believes that, in the long run, a sales tax exemption will help keep the cost to customers down, while encouraging them to wash their cars in an environmentally appropriate way.
The PSCWA is calling for car wash operators in Washington State to join us in supporting the effort to approve a sales tax exemption.  To learn more, to become involved at the grass roots effort, and/or contribute to lobbying costs, visit the PSCWA web site at

By Elly Snow
Executive Director, Puget Sound Car Wash Association

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