Personal chefs are independent contractors (not employees) that prepare food in private homes for consumption by household members. Personal chefs may also prepare meals for social events, such as dinner parties, cocktail parties, engagement parties, weddings, and receptions.


Taxes That Apply

The following taxes apply to personal chef services regardless of who provides the food ingredients:

  • Business & Occupation tax: Personal chefs report their income under the Retailing business and occupation tax classification. See WAC 458-20-119(2).
  • Retail sales tax: Personal chef services are subject to retail sales tax. The personal chef must collect sales tax at the rate due for the location where the customer receives the prepared food.

The proper tax rate can be found by entering the address in the Department of Revenue’s Tax Rate Lookup Tool.


NOTE: There is a retail sales tax exemption for meals that are prepared containing raw or undercooked eggs, fish, meat, or poultry when both of the following apply:

  • After preparation, the meals are refrigerated or frozen for consumption at a later time, and
  • The meals must be cooked prior to consumption to prevent food borne illness, as recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. See WAC 458-20-244(4).

For more information, refer to the Department of Revenue’s Special Notice Prepared Food Tax Changes at



WAC 458-20-119(2)WAC 458-20-244(4)

If you have any further questions about this topic or others, see the Department of Labor & Industries’ Help for Small Business page at


Rev. 1/1/18


This article is an excerpt from the Handbook for Excellent Restaurant Operations (HERO), published by the Washington Hospitality Association.  Want a hard copy of the whole manual?  It’s one of the many benefits of becoming a member!  Find out more about joining the Hospitality Association here.

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