Tribal members tax exemption updates!

Cowlitz Tribal Member Tax Exemptions

Cowlitz Tribal member can purchase motor vehicles and other items on the reservation without paying WA state sales tax.  Delivery of the motor vehicle or other property must physically take place on the Cowlitz Reservation in Clark County, Washington.  Please note that there are new forms published by the state to simplify this process!


As of March 9, 2015, Cowlitz Tribal members can now purchase motor vehicles and other items on the reservation without paying the WA state sales tax.  The Cowlitz Reservation at exit 16 off Interstate 5 to the west, in Clark County, Washington.  To take advantage of this exemption, the Tribal member and the seller must complete a form from the State Department of Revenue. See links based on topics below:


What tribes and tribal members/citizens should know

Tribal members/citizens do not pay state taxes for their transactions that occur in their Indian Country. This means state taxes are inapplicable when:

  • You have a service performed for you within your Indian country.
  • You purchase items within your Indian country.
  • You pay for utilities, e.g., phone, water, electricity, trash collection, that serve your home or business in your Indian country.
  • A product or service is purchased by you and delivered to you in your Indian country
  • You own and operate a business in your Indian country; however, you may be required to collect state retail sales tax from non tribal citizen customers and report and remit the taxes collected.

Tribal tax may, however, be due on any of the above. Ask your tribal government if tribal tax is due.

Documenting your tribal exemption

Washington taxpayers must document the reason a sale is exempt from collection of a tax; otherwise, they may owe the tax. Therefore, retailers may ask you to fill out one of the following forms:

How to get a refund

You can apply to the Department for a refund if the retailer does not provide you an exemption to which you are entitled. To apply for a refund you need:

Vehicle purchases

Tribal members/citizens can purchase vehicles exempt of retail sales tax and use tax if the seller delivers the vehicle to the tribal member/citizen’s Indian Country.

However, tribal citizens/members must pay retail sales tax or use tax on vehicle purchases if they take delivery of the vehicle at the seller’s location or another location outside their Indian Country.

Buying from an auto dealership – The Declaration for a Dealer Selling a Motor Vehicle to Tribes (pdf) form must be used to document exempt vehicle sales to tribal persons. Auto dealers and tribal members must complete this certificate to document that the vehicle was sold to an tribal member and the vehicle was delivered to the tribal member’s Indian Country.

Buying from a private party – Tribal members must complete the form Private Party Selling a Motor Vehicle to Tribes (pdf). Tribal members/citizens are required to certify that the vehicle was delivered to the tribal member’s Indian Country. An original signed copy must be submitted to the Department of Licensing with title application.

If a tribal member/citizen has their car repaired at a repair facility located outside Indian Country, but arranges for the repaired car to be delivered to them inside their Indian Country, is sales tax due?
Under RCW 82.32.730(1)(b), sales of retail services such as automobile repair are sourced to the location where receipt by the purchaser occurs. Therefore, if a tribal member/citizen requests delivery of their repaired automobile inside their Indian Country, and the repair facility delivers the automobile in accordance with the instructions, no retail sales tax is due on the sale, regardless of where the repair services are actually performed.


For more details please review latest update from Dept of Revenue or call Washington State Department of Revenue at 1-800-647-7706