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Pot Taxes Paid in Cash? Wash. State Says OK

Ed Andrieski
Associated Press

Marijuana-based businesses in Washington will be able to pay their taxes in cash, according to the state’s Department of Revenue. The agency is gearing up for more cash filers in its field offices.

Most banks are unwilling to open accounts for marijuana businesses because of the federal prohibition on pot. That means Washington’s new legal recreational marijuana market could be a largely cash-based enterprise—a challenge in a mostly-electronic world.

But Kim Schmanke with Washington’s Department of Revenue says her agency is already equipped to accept tax payments in cash.

“Actually, Revenue has a number of customers who currently do pay their taxes in cash in our field offices, and we anticipate the influx of cash transactions in our field offices. So we are preparing our staff and bringing in the cash-counting equipment,” Schmanke said.

The department will collect retail sales tax, as well as the business and occupation tax from marijuana companies.

The state’s Liquor Control Board is responsible for collecting the 25-percent excise taxes at the producer, processor, and retail levels. But a spokesman says the Liquor Board has not yet figured out how to collect those taxes. One hope is a banking solution will emerge before the pot market really gets going next spring. 

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy as well as the Washington State legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia." Prior to joining the Northwest News Network, Austin worked as a television reporter in Seattle, Portland and Boise. Austin is a graduate of Garfield High School in Seattle and Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut. Austin’s reporting has been recognized with awards from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors, Public Radio News Directors Incorporated and the Society of Professional Journalists.