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Welcome to AWC’s online library of Legislative Bulletin and CityVoice news articles and other updates.

Published on Friday, April 18, 2014

No changes to city business licensing and taxing this year

Since this was the second year of the biennium, legislative proposals from the 2013 session were eligible to be revived and advanced.

Regarding municipal finance, the 2013 session was largely dominated by how cities license and tax businesses. As noted in last year’s Final Bulletin, the business community was expected to bring back their priority proposals mandating cities with business licenses to join the state’s Business Licensing Service, SB 5656, and requiring cities with a B&O tax to adopt the state B&O classifications, SB 5688. However, neither proposal made any further progress in the 2014 session.

In response to these and other similar proposals, cities have been working on and are close to launching File Local, a city-administered online portal for local business licensing and tax filing. If a business works in Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue or Everett, they will be able to get a city business license and file local B&O taxes from one online address. The result will be easy tax filing and payment, enhanced customer service, and less work for customers. When File Local goes live, roughly 9 out of 10 businesses in Washington State that pay local B&O taxes will be able to use it. This portal project should address many of the concerns expressed by the business community. If similar proposals that negatively impact local control and revenue are introduced again next year, cities will continue to oppose them.

Another proposal from 2013 did see success this year. HB 1287 established a property tax exemption for all tribally owned property used for economic development. In both sessions, cities and other local governments expressed concern over the broad exemption and potential financial impacts provided in the bill. This year some limits to the exemption and a PILT (payment in lieu of leasehold excise taxes) were added before it passed. The bill is summarized here.

BillTracker AWC priority Bill # Descriptive title Final status
Monitor EHB 1287 Property tax exemption for all tribally-owned property used for economic development Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SHB 1634 Including solar, biomass, and geothermal facilities in property tax levy calculations Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    SB 6405 Standardizing nonexempt use of tax-exempt property owned by non-profits Law; Effective 6/12/2014
    HB 1486 Simple majority approval for continuing fire benefit charges Failed
Major HB 2314 Restoring local liquor revenue sharing Failed
    HB 2345 Standardizing nonexempt use of tax-exempt property owned by non-profits Failed; See SB 6405
    HB 2428 Reauthorizing EMS levies at a lower rate Failed
    HB 2539 Simplifying sales tax of amusement, recreation, and physical fitness services  Failed
    HB 2681 Extending the annexation sales tax credit Failed
    SB 5331 Simple majority approval for continuing fire benefit charges Failed
  Strongly defend against SB 5656 Mandating city use of the state's Business Licensing Service Failed
  Strongly defend against SB 5688 Changing local B&O taxes Failed
Monitor ESSB 5697 Reducing the frequency of local sales tax changes Failed
    SB 6114 Revising local government treasury practices and procedures Failed
Major SB 6361 Restoring local liquor revenue sharing Failed
    SB 6472 Simplifying sales tax of amusement, recreation, and physical fitness services  Failed
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