How long does it take to achieve clean hands?

If you have been non-compliant and therefore not able to obtain a clean hands certificate, you may be trying to figure out how long it might take to achieve clean hands status. This article is our attempt to provide some guidance on that timeline. The following is based on our experience with client files following notification of non-compliance and the time it took those clients to achieve compliance. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered absolute. Please note that the Office of Tax and Revenue does not publish specific timelines.


In our experience, these timelines become longer during the tax filing season, starting in February (through April 15th) and worsening closer to the April 15th filing deadline.


Note: “Tax returns” include personal income tax returns and any business tax returns, including but not limited to the D30 Unincorporated Franchise Tax Return, the D20 Incorporated Franchise Tax Return, and the FP30 Personal Property Tax Return.

You were missing a tax return(s) and have filed them using DC’s MyTax portal (, and no payment was due with the filing:

If you needed to file a missing return(s) that did not require payment due and was filed using DC’s MyTax portal, we have found that most applicants seem to achieve clean hands in approximately 48 hours, but this is not a hard and fast rule.

You were missing a tax return(s) and have filed them using DC’s MyTax portal (, but a payment was due:

If you filed a return and a payment was due, assuming you filed the return and made the payment, we have noticed it will typically take approximately 14 calendar days to obtain a clean hands certificate, although in some cases, it has been a shorter time and other times longer.

You were missing a tax return(s) and have filed them by mail or through your accountant:

When the returns and associated payments were not processed through DC’s MyTax portal, we noticed that if a return was due without payment, it took approximately two to four weeks to process. If a payment was due, it has taken as long as one month.

You had outstanding parking or photo enforcement tickets:

These items are administered by the Department of Motor Vehicles, which must then report the payment to the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR), and then OTR updates the Clean Hands system. Only a few clients have said this was the reason for or part of the reason for non-compliance. In these few cases, it took approximately 30 days from their payment date before they received Clean Hands compliance.


Other reasons:

We cannot comment on the timeline for other individual reasons that may have caused you not to have achieved clean hands. Keep in mind that if the agency that administers the reason is not the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR), the timeline will depend on the administering agency’s processing time to process the filing/payment, the time it takes them to notify OTR and then OTRs processing timeline to update the Clean Hands system. This is a three-step process. 

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