Business and Occupation Tax
All individuals and firms doing business in Bellingham, whether located inside or outside the City limits, must register with the City Finance Department and are subject to the business and occupation (B&O) tax unless specifically exempted by Bellingham Municipal Code.
- Manage your City License and Business and Occupation Tax Account
- A Guide To Business and Occupation Tax (PDF)
Washington’s property tax system is a significant source of revenue for state and local governments, including the City of Bellingham. In Whatcom County, property tax assessments are performed by the county Assessor’s Office and collection performed by the county Treasurer’s Office. Property tax revenues are then distributed to the City and other governments as appropriate.
Although property taxes represent a significant source of funding for City services, the portion of each property owner’s tax bill going to the City is about 20%. In 2021, the majority of properties total property tax rate in Bellingham is $9.84 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, with $1.89 (per $1,000 assessed valuation) of that going to the City. The above information is from the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office, annual tax booklet publication. To review the tax booklet and additional information visit the assessor’s web site.
The links below provide information to help property owners understand how property taxes are calculated and collected:
- Distribution of Property Tax Collected (PDF)
- Washington State Department of Revenue property tax resources
- Whatcom County Assessor’s Office
The retail sales tax is Washington’s principal tax source. Local retail sales and use taxes provide important funding sources for local governments, including the City of Bellingham. Sales and use taxes are collected by the state Department of Revenue. The state portion is deposited in the state General Fund. City and county taxes are returned to the local governments. Specifically designated taxes must be used to operate the program(s) they fund.
- Distribution of Sales Tax Collected in Bellingham (PDF)
- Sales and Use Tax information from the Washington State Department of Revenue
This tax is similar to the gross receipts B&O tax, except it is imposed on utility businesses. Please see the utility tax schedule and refer to the code for latest updates.
Other Tax Information
The State Department of Revenue also administers a State B&O tax. Register your Business with the City at the Washington State Department of Revenue. This is not jointly administered for the State and City, and is only for registration purposes. For more information, visit the Department of Revenue website to access their Washington State business and occupation tax resources.