All posts by Terra Joy

Charging the Correct Sales Tax Rate

Determining sales tax rates is not most people’s cup of tea. But as a small business owner in Washington who has customers who receive merchandise in various locations, it is important to be sure you are charging the correct sales tax rates.

Washington is a “destination-based” state, meaning that the sales tax rate is determined by the location where the customer receives the merchandise. This is especially important if you are a contractor or business who travels to your customer’s location to complete a job. If you fall into this category, always be sure you record your job/customer address when creating an invoice, and use that address to determine the sales tax rate. Older versions of QuickBooks Online do not have automatic sales tax, so you will need to update the rates yourself. Washington businesses can find the most updated rates on the Department of Revenue website ( Navigate to ‘Taxes and Rates’ once you get to the website.

DOR gives several options for finding the rate(s) you are looking for.  It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of the tools so you’ll know exactly where to look when you have a sales tax rate question. If you are unsure whether your business is handling sales tax collection & reporting correctly, we are here to help!

Built Green Conference Recap

Earlier this Fall our Lead Accountant, Adrienne Kaylor, had the opportunity to attend the ‘Built Green’ conference in Everett, WA. We’d like to tell you about this amazing experience!

Built Green “is the holistic green home certification program of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish counties” (in WA state). They certify various ‘green’ building projects and cultivate a network of companies involved in the green building industry. You can read more about Built Green here. We at Joy Accounting were all excited for Adrienne to attend this conference because we enjoy learning about ideas that can help the health of our communities and planet, and building is certainly a big part of “going green”. Below are some highlights from the event.

Keynote Speaker: Alex Steffan, Planetary Futurist

With a title like ‘Planetary Futurist’, Alex Steffan is destined to give interesting talks. He did not disappoint.

Alex gave a fascinating talk on how the future of our planet ties directly to the building of our cities. He explained that as the world gets hotter, the more unstable it becomes; this causes a loss of predictability.

Cities need to become more ruggedized (designed or improved to be hard-wearing or shock-resistant) to survive this instability, and that’s expensive. Our cities are built based on predictability, making it difficult for infrastructure laws & practices to keep up with the changing planet. Alex said that by 2050, 70% of the world will be living in cities, making it all the more important to prioritize sustainability in building.

Breakout Session: ADU’s – Innovative and Affordable Density

Mike Hinrichsen and Robert Humble presented their knowledge of building ADU’s and DADU’s (accessory dwelling units and detached accessory dwelling units) and how they can be a creative solution to the housing shortage we are facing in the Seattle area.  

On July 1st, 2019, the city of Seattle adopted a new to encourage D/ADU’s. The new bill relaxes the land use rules, making it easier for homeowner’s to legally fit a D/ADU on their properties.

Mike explained the benefits of building these micro dwellings which included saving for retirement, aging in place, and adding long-term value to your property. Robert touched on design elements that make for a great D/ADU such as having a private separate entry, access to grade, functional storage, and having flexible/adaptive spaces within the unit. They also pointed out that you don’t have to pay a premium for green building with a D/ADU.

Breakout Session: Successful Air Barriers – Today, Tomorrow, and in Your Future

Before this session, we didn’t understand what an ‘air barrier’ was or why it is important to the health of a building. After Tom Schneider, Tadashi Shiga, and Dan Whimore shared their expertise and experience with air barriers in relation to passive house energy levels, our eyes were opened!

‘Passive House’ means your building is very well-insulated with an air-tight design that minimizes energy inefficiencies. Washington state energy code will reach passive house levels of energy efficiency by 2031. This shift means the permeability of your air barrier is of the utmost importance during the building process and should be prioritized on site.

Tom shared a ‘path to success’ that includes hiring a designated air sealing specialist, ensuring the air barrier is continuous through all building sections, scheduling pre-construction meetings, creating mock-ups, and planning for quality control.