Tax exemptions for military personnel

Important information

  • Vehicle and vessel licensing offices can’t perform transactions on Saturday, December 10.
  • Vehicle and vessel online services won’t be available December 7-12 while we update our system.
  • On December 12, 2016, we’ll begin using a new vehicle and vessel computer system.
  • In the days following the launch of our new system, you may experience longer than usual wait times.

Learn more: DOL vehicle licensing system will be down on December 10 for system replacement (licensingexpress.wordpress.com).

Several types of tax exemptions may be available for:

Nonresidents stationed in Washington

Excise tax and RTA tax

You may not have to pay vehicle excise tax or RTA tax when you license your vehicle in Washington if you’re:

  • An active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces.
  • A U.S. Public Health Officer.
  • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency personnel.
  • Coast Guard personnel living in Washington and assigned to duty in the Portland, OR area.

To qualify for these exemptions, when you license your vehicle in Washington, you must:

  1. Certify your home of record is in a state or country other than Washington.
  2. Be the registered owner or co-registered owner of the vehicle or boat for which the excise tax exemption is sought.
  3. Complete an Non-Resident Military Affidavit for Exemption of Excise Tax. This form must be notarized or certified.
  4. Present a Leave and Earnings Statement (LES) showing your home of record.

Sales and use tax

If you’ll be in Washington for less than 90 days, you may be exempt from paying sales or use tax when you buy a car in Washington. To qualify, you must have a copy of your orders showing:

  • You’re temporarily stationed in Washington and will leave within 90 days of the date of purchase.
  • or
  • You’re permanently reassigned to a new duty station outside Washington, and will leave within 90 days of the date of purchase.

Exemptions for spouses

The spouse of a military member may be exempt from paying RTA tax if:

  • The military member is the owner or co-owner of the vehicle.
  • The military member is on active duty.
  • The spouse has a military ID card.

Washington residents stationed outside the state

Sales or use tax

If you purchase a vehicle while you’re stationed out of state and license it in Washington, you may not have to pay Washington State sales tax if:

  • You’re a resident of Washington serving outside the state as:
    • An active-duty member of the United States Armed Forces.
    • A U.S. Public Health Officer.
    • National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency personnel.
  • You’re on active duty over 6 months.
  • You got the vehicle at least 90 days before discharge.
  • The vehicle was purchased and delivered outside of Washington.

You can’t get this exemption if you:

  • Are on active duty for training purposes for less than 6 months.
  • Bought the vehicle less than 30 days before being discharged or released from active duty.

Related laws and rules

Explanation of abbreviations

  • RCW: Revised Code of Washington (Washington State laws)
  • WAC: Washington Administrative Code (Washington State agency regulations)

Questions? Need help?

Email us: CustomerCare@dol.wa.gov

Washington Healthcare Finder
Good To Go!
Access Washington – official state government website