Chapter 3.30
TAX ON PURCHASERS OF UTILITY SERVICE

Sections:

3.30.010    Definitions.

3.30.020    Electric utility consumer tax.

3.30.030    Local natural gas utility consumer tax.

3.30.040    Penalties.

3.30.050    Consumer use tax upon telephone service.

3.30.060    Collection of tax.

3.30.070    Remittance of tax collections.

3.30.080    Refunds.

3.30.090    Interest and penalties.

3.30.100    Tax on purchases of local telephone service to pay for an E911 emergency system.

3.30.110    Water utility tax.

3.30.010 Definitions.

“Consumer” means every person who, individually or through agents, employees, officers, representatives or permittees, makes a taxable purchase of electricity or natural gas services in this jurisdiction.

“Gas utility” means a public utility authorized to furnish natural gas service in Virginia.

“CCF” means the volume of gas at standard pressure and temperature in units of 100 cubic feet.

“Kilowatt hours (kWh) delivered” means 1,000 watts of electricity delivered in a one-hour period by an electric provider to an actual consumer, except that in the case of eligible customer-generators (sometimes called cogenerators) as defined in Section 56-594 of the Code of Virginia, it means kWh supplied from the electric grid to such customer-generators, minus the kWh generated and fed back to the electric grid by such customer-generators.

“Person” means any individual, corporation, company or other entity.

“Pipeline distribution company” means a person, other than a pipeline transmission company which transmits, by means of a pipeline, natural gas, manufactured gas or crude petroleum and the products or byproducts thereof to a purchaser for purposes of furnishing heat or light.

“Residential consumer” means the owner or tenant of property used primarily for residential purposes, including, but not limited to, apartment houses and other multiple-family dwellings.

“Service provider” means a person who delivers electricity to a consumer or a gas utility or pipeline distribution company which delivers natural gas to a consumer.

“Used primarily” relates to the larger portion of the use for which electric or natural gas utility service is furnished. (Code 1985, § 12-137).

3.30.020 Electric utility consumer tax.

(1) In accordance with Section 58.1-3814 of the Code of Virginia, effective January 1, 2001, there is hereby imposed and levied a monthly tax on each purchase of electricity delivered to consumers by a service provider, classified as determined by such provider, as follows:

(a) Residential consumers: Such tax shall be $1.40 plus the rate of $0.015 on each kWh delivered monthly to residential consumers by a service provider not to exceed $2.00 monthly.

(b) Nonresidential consumers: Such tax on nonresidential consumers shall be at the rates per month for the classes of nonresidential consumers as set forth below:

(i) Commercial consumers – such tax shall be $2.29 plus the rate of $0.014489 on each kWh delivered monthly to commercial consumers, not to exceed $20.00 monthly.

(ii) Industrial consumers – such tax shall be $2.29 plus the rate of 0.014489 on each kWh delivered monthly to industrial consumers, not to exceed $20.00 monthly.

(c) The conversion of tax pursuant to this chapter to monthly kWh delivered shall not be effective before the first meter reading after December 31, 2000, prior to which time the tax previously imposed by this jurisdiction shall be in effect.

(2) Exemptions. The following consumers of electricity are exempt from the tax imposed by this section:

(a) The United States of America, the commonwealth and the political subdivisions thereof, including this jurisdiction.

(3) Billing, Collection and Remittance of Tax. The service provider shall bill the electricity consumer tax to all users who are subject to the tax and to whom it delivers electricity and shall remit the same to the commissioner of the revenue for the city on a monthly basis on forms provided by the commissioner. Such taxes shall be paid by the service provider to this jurisdiction in accordance with Section 58.1-3814, paragraphs F. and G., and Section 58.1-2901 of the Code of Virginia. If any consumer receives and pays for electricity but refuses to pay the tax imposed by this section, the service provider shall notify the commissioner of revenue of this jurisdiction of the name and address of such consumer. If any consumer fails to pay a bill issued by a service provider, including the tax imposed by this section, the service provider must follow its normal collection procedures and upon collection of the bill or any part thereof must apportion the net amount collected between the charge for electric service and the tax and remit the tax portion to this jurisdiction. Any tax paid by the consumer to the service provider shall be deemed to be held in trust by such provider until remitted to this jurisdiction. Such remittance shall be due and payable to this jurisdiction on or before the last day of the calendar month following the month the tax was received by the service provider.

(4) Computation of Bills Not on Monthly Basis. Bills shall be considered as monthly bills for the purposes of this chapter if submitted 12 times per year of approximately one month each. Accordingly, the tax for a bimonthly bill (approximately 60 days) shall be determined as follows:

(a) The kWh will be divided by two;

(b) A monthly tax will be calculated using the rates set forth in this section;

(c) The tax determined by subsection (4)(b) of this section shall be multiplied by two;

(d) The tax in subsection (4)(c) of this section may not exceed twice the monthly “maximum tax.” (Code 1985, § 12-138).

3.30.030 Local natural gas utility consumer tax.

(1) In accordance with Section 58.1-3814 of the Code of Virginia, there is hereby imposed and levied a monthly tax on each purchase of natural gas delivered to consumers by pipeline distribution companies and gas utilities classified by “class of consumers” as such term is defined in Section 58.1-3814 J. of the Code of Virginia, as follows:

(a) Residential consumers: Such tax on residential consumers of natural gas shall be $2.00 plus the rate of $0.00 on each CCF, delivered monthly to residential consumers, not to exceed $2.00 per month.

(b) Nonresidential consumers: Such tax on nonresidential consumers shall be at the rates per month shown for each CCF delivered by a pipeline distribution company or a gas utility for the classes as set forth below:

(i) Commercial consumers – such tax shall be $4.65 plus the rate of $0.182269 on each CCF delivered monthly to commercial consumers, not to exceed $20.00 monthly.

(ii) Industrial consumers – such tax shall be $4.65 plus the rate of $0.182269 on each CCF delivered monthly to industrial consumers, not to exceed $20.00 monthly.

(c) The conversion of tax pursuant to this chapter to monthly CCF delivered shall not be effective before the first meter reading after December 31, 2000, prior to which time the tax previously imposed by this jurisdiction shall be in effect.

(2) Exemptions. The following consumers of natural gas shall be exempt from the tax imposed by this section:

(a) The United States of America, the commonwealth and the political subdivisions thereof, including this jurisdiction.

(3) Billing, Collection and Remittance of Tax. The service provider shall bill the natural gas consumer tax to all users who are subject to the tax and to whom it delivers natural gas and shall remit the same to the commissioner of the revenue for the city on a monthly basis on forms provided by the commissioner. Such taxes shall be paid by the service provider to this jurisdiction in accordance with Section 58.1-3814, paragraphs F. and G., and Section 58.1-2901 of the Code of Virginia. If any consumer receives and pays for natural gas but refuses to pay the tax imposed by this section, the service provider shall notify the commissioner of the revenue of this jurisdiction of the name and address of such consumer. If any consumer fails to pay a bill issued by a service provider, including the tax imposed by this section, the service provider must follow its normal collection procedures and upon collection of the bill or any part thereof must apportion the net amount collected between the charge for natural gas and the tax and remit the tax portion to this jurisdiction. Any tax paid by the consumer to the service provider shall be deemed to be held in trust by such provider until remitted to this jurisdiction. Such remittance shall be due and payable to this jurisdiction on or before the last day of the calendar month following the month the tax was received by the service provider.

(4) Computation of Bills Not on Monthly Basis. Bills shall be considered as monthly bills for the purposes of this chapter if submitted 12 times per year of approximately one month each. Accordingly, the tax for a bimonthly bill (approximately 60 days) shall be determined as follows:

(a) The CCF will be divided by two;

(b) A monthly tax will be calculated using the rates set forth in this section;

(c) The tax determined by subsection (4)(b) of this section shall be multiplied by two;

(d) The tax in subsection (4)(c) of this section may not exceed twice the monthly “maximum tax.” (Code 1985, § 12-139).

3.30.040 Penalties.

Any consumer of electricity or natural gas failing, refusing or neglecting to pay the tax imposed and levied under this chapter, and any officer, agent or employee of any service provider violating the provisions of this chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, be punished by a fine of not less than $1,000 nor more than $2,500, or by imprisonment in jail for not more than 360 days, or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each such failure, refusal, neglect or violation shall constitute a separate offense. Such conviction shall not relieve any person from the payment, collection and remittance of the tax as provided in this chapter. (Code 1985, § 12-140).

3.30.050 Consumer use tax upon telephone service.

(1) There is hereby imposed and levied by the city a tax on all taxable purchases by a consumer of local telecommunications service, if the consumer’s service address is located within the city in the amount of 20 percent of the monthly gross charge, exclusive of any federal tax thereon, made by the seller or service provider with respect to such purchase; provided, however, that such tax shall not exceed $2.00 per month for residential users, or $20.00 per month for commercial or industrial users.

(2) There is hereby imposed and levied a tax on all taxable purchases by a consumer of local mobile telecommunications service at a rate equal to 10 percent of the monthly gross charge, exclusive of any federal tax thereon, to a consumer of local mobile telecommunications service and shall not be applicable to any amount so charged in excess of $30.00 per month for each mobile telecommunications service number billed to a mobile service consumer, but in no case more than $3.00 per month.

(3) Terms used in this section and the succeeding SCC 3.30.060 through and including SCC 3.30.090 shall have the meanings ascribed to them by Section 58.1-3812 of the Code of Virginia, 1950, as amended. Said definitions shall be applicable unless the context of this chapter clearly indicates to the contrary.

(4) Exemptions. The United States of America, the state and the political subdivisions, boards, commissions and authorities thereof are hereby exempted from the payment of the tax imposed and levied by this chapter with respect to the purchase of utility services used by such governmental agencies. (Ord. 2004-16. Code 1985, § 12-141).

3.30.060 Collection of tax.

(1) A service provider of local telecommunication services shall collect the tax from the consumer by adding the tax to the monthly gross charge for such services. The tax shall, when collected, be stated as a distinct item separate and apart from the monthly gross charge. Until the consumer pays the tax to the service provider, the tax shall constitute a debt of the consumer to the city of Staunton. If any consumer refuses to pay the tax, the service provider shall notify the commissioner of the revenue. After the consumer pays the tax to the service provider, the taxes collected shall be deemed to be held in trust by the service provider until remitted to the commissioner of the revenue.

(2) The commissioner of the revenue shall be responsible for collecting the tax imposed in SCC 3.30.050. The commissioner shall have the authority to adopt appropriate regulations and procedures to facilitate and expedite the collection of said taxes. All such regulations and procedures shall be consistent with state law and other provisions of this code. (Code 1985, § 12-142).

3.30.070 Remittance of tax collections.

Each service provider shall remit monthly to the commissioner of the revenue the amount of tax billed during the preceding month to consumers with a service address in the city of Staunton. All such remittances shall be paid over to the commissioner of the revenue not later than the twenty-seventh day of the month following the month in which they are collected, or the first business day thereafter. (Code 1985, § 12-143).

3.30.080 Refunds.

Any consumer is entitled to a refund from the city equal to the amount of the tax the consumer paid to a jurisdiction outside of the commonwealth if such tax was legally imposed in such other jurisdiction. The amount of any such credit or refund shall not exceed the tax paid to the city of Staunton. (Code 1985, § 12-144).

3.30.090 Interest and penalties.

Any consumer who fails to pay the tax imposed in this chapter when due to the service provider and any service provider who fails to remit said taxes to the commissioner of the revenue in accordance with SCC 3.30.080 shall be liable for interest and penalties. The interest and penalties for a consumer or service provider shall be computed in the same manner as interest and penalties are computed for failure to pay or remit the city’s utility tax.

All other provisions of SCC 3.30.100 et seq., are hereby unchanged and are ratified and confirmed hereby. (Code 1985, § 12-145; Ord. 10-12-00; Ord. 4-12-01).

3.30.100 Tax on purchases of local telephone service to pay for an E911 emergency system.

(1) When used in this section the following words shall have the following meanings except where the context clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended.

(a) E911 System. An “E911 system” means a telephone service which utilizes a computerized system to automatically route emergency telephone calls placed by dialing the digits 911 to the proper public safety answering point serving the jurisdiction from which the emergency telephone call was placed. An E911 system includes selective routing of telephone calls, automatic telephone number identification, and automatic location identification performed by computers and other auxiliary control center communications equipment.

(b) Public Safety Answering Point. The term “public safety answering point” means a communications facility operated on a 24-hour basis which first receives E911 calls from persons in an E911 service area and which may, as appropriate, directly dispatch public safety services or extend, transfer, or relay E911 calls to appropriate public safety agencies.

(c) Public Safety Agency. The term “public safety agency” means a functional division of a public agency which provides firefighting, police, medical, or other emergency services or a private entity which provides such services on a voluntary basis.

(d) Local Telephone Service. The term “local telephone service” shall mean local exchange service.

(2) There is hereby imposed and levied by the city of Staunton, upon every purchaser of local telephone service, a tax in the amount of $2.90 per month. This tax shall be paid by the purchaser to the seller of local telephone service (hereinafter referred to as “seller”) for the use of the city of Staunton to pay for the initial capital, installation, communications facility renovations and/or remodeling, and maintenance costs of its E911 system. When the total initial capital and installation costs have been fully recovered, the tax shall be reduced to the level necessary to offset recurring maintenance, repair, and system upgrade costs, salaries or portions of salaries of dispatchers or call takers. The treasurer of the city shall notify the seller of the date on which the tax is to be reduced under this section. This notification will be sent by certified mail to the registered agent of the seller 60 days in advance of the date of which the tax is to be reduced.

(3) It shall be the duty of every seller in acting as the tax-collecting medium or agency for the city to add the amount of the tax imposed under subsection (2) of this section to all periodic bills it renders to nonexempt purchasers of local telephone service. The seller shall accept remittances of tax from purchasers at the time it collects the charges for local telephone service and shall report and pay over all tax collected in any calendar month to the treasurer of the city on or before the last day of the first calendar month thereafter. At this time, the seller shall notify the treasurer of the city of the name and address of all purchasers who refuse to pay the tax imposed by this section. The tax levied or imposed under this section shall become effective with the later of (a) bills dated 60 days after a copy of the section is sent to the registered agent of the seller by certified mail, or (b) bills dated on or after September 1, 2000.

(4) Each and every seller shall keep records showing all purchases of local telephone service in the city of Staunton. These records must show the date of bills for local telephone service and the amount of tax appearing on each bill. These records shall be kept at the seller’s offices for a period of three years for inspection by the duly authorized agents of the city at reasonable times during normal business hours. The duly authorized agents of the city shall have the right, power and authority to make copies thereof.

(5) The United States of America, the state of Virginia and the political subdivisions, agencies, boards, commissions and authorities of the United States and the state of Virginia are hereby exempted from payment of the tax imposed and levied by this section.

(6) This tax shall not apply to any local telephone service where a periodic bill is not rendered.

(7) Any purchaser who willfully fails, refuses, or neglects to pay the tax hereby imposed any seller, or any officer, agent or employee thereof, who with full knowledge, willfully refuses to perform the duties imposed on it by subsections (3) and (4) of this section with the intent of preventing the collection of the tax imposed by this section, shall upon conviction be subject to a fine of not more than $25.00. Each failure, refusal or neglect and each day’s continuance thereof shall constitute a separate offense.

(8) Whenever the tax levied by this section is collected by the seller acting as tax-collecting medium or agency for the city of Staunton in accordance with SCC 3.30.100(3), such seller shall be allowed as compensation for the collection and remittance of this tax, three percent of the amount of tax due and accounted for. The seller shall deduct this compensation from the payment made to the treasurer of the city of Staunton in accordance with SCC 3.30.100(3). (Code 1985, § 12-146; Ord. 10-26-89; Ord. 7-13-94; Ord. 5-22-97; Ord. 4-27-00).

3.30.110 Water utility tax.

(1) There is hereby imposed and levied by the city, upon each purchaser of city water, a tax in the amount of 20 percent of the charge, exclusive of any federal tax thereon, made by the seller against the purchaser; provided, however, that such tax shall not exceed $2.00 for residential users or $20.00 for commercial or industrial users multiplied, in each case, by the number of months, or portions thereof, covered by the bill for such water purchase.

(2) The tax imposed and levied by this section shall not apply to the United States of America, the state and the political subdivisions, boards, commissions and authorities thereof with respect to water purchased for the use of such governmental agencies.

(3) The tax imposed and levied by this section shall not apply to the purchase of bottled water. (Code 1985, § 12-147; Ord. 3-14-02).