Chapter 4.74
ADMISSION TAX

Sections:

4.74.010    Definitions.

4.74.020    Tax levied.

4.74.030    Exemptions.

4.74.040    Sign to be posted.

4.74.060    Collection and remittance of taxes.

4.74.070    Collection and remittance for transitory or temporary amusements.

4.74.080    Reports and remittances by owner.

4.74.090    Records to be kept.

4.74.100    Clerk to adopt rules and regulations.

4.74.110    Delinquent payments – Penalty.

4.74.120    Remittance on sale or disposal of business.

4.74.130    Examination of books and records.

4.74.140    Collection of tax by civil action.

4.74.150    Violations – Penalty.

4.74.155    Administrative review.

4.74.160    Severability.

4.74.010 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, the words set out in this section shall have the following meanings:

“Admission charge” means in addition to the definitions contained in RCW 35.21.280 as from time to time amended and in addition to its usual and ordinary meaning:

A. Any charge made for season tickets or subscriptions for the types of activities described in subsection (B) of this definition;

B. A charge made for admission to any theater, amphitheater, auditorium, stadium, athletic pavilion or field, or any similar place, but shall not include athletic clubs which impose charges on a membership basis;

C. A sum of money referred to as a “donation” which must be paid before entrance is allowed to those activities or facilities described in subsection (B) of this definition.

“Clerk” means the finance director or his designee.

“Person” means any individual, receiver, assignee, firm, copartnership, joint venture, corporation, company, joint stock association, society or any group of individuals acting as a unit whether mutual, cooperative or fraternal.

“Place” includes, but is not limited to, theaters, dance halls, amphitheaters, auditoriums, stadiums, athletic pavilions and fields, baseball and athletic parks or circus within the city limits. The situs of the event shall control irrespective of where the ticket or tickets are purchased.

“Subscription” means, in addition to its usual and ordinary meaning, an annual membership due or fees in an organization whose principal purpose is to present theatrical or musical performance for its members.

“Successor” means any person who shall directly or indirectly purchase or succeed to a business in any manner whatsoever. Any person obligated to fulfill the terms of a contract shall be deemed a successor to any contractor defaulting in the performance of any contract as to which such person or persons is surety or guarantor. [Ord. 8924 § 1, 1981].

4.74.020 Tax levied.

There is levied and imposed upon every person who pays an admission charge, a tax in an amount equal to one cent for each $0.20 or fraction thereof of the admission charge paid. [Ord. 10145, 1990].

4.74.030 Exemptions.

Admission tax shall not apply to any person paying an admission charge to:

A. Any activity of any elementary or secondary school; or

B. Any activity for which the charge is $1.00 or less; or

C. Any activity of any corporation, trust, society, order, institution, organization or association exclusively engaged in or devoted to any religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, public or other like work, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private stockholders or individuals; provided, however, that this exemption shall not apply in the case of admissions to:

1. Any athletic game or exhibition except for those conducted by colleges, universities, or other institutions of higher learning;

2. Any circus in which any professional performer or operator participates for compensation, unless such circus, organization or entity is exempt from federal income taxation under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3);

3. Any motion picture exhibition or showing;

4. Any stage show, musical, comedy performance or other entertainment in which any nonstudent performer participates for compensation, unless the organization or entity conducting such show, musical, comedy, or performance is exempt from federal income taxation under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3).

D. Any live music performance at a premises or location which possesses and maintains a certificate of exemption for a live music venue issued by the director; provided, however, that the admission tax shall be due for any and all admission charges paid prior to the issuance of a certificate of exemption, or paid after the director has cancelled a certificate of exemption, or paid at any time during which a cancellation of a certificate of exemption could or should have been in effect. The term “director,” as used in this subsection, means the finance director of the city of Bellingham.

1. A premises or location is eligible for a certificate of exemption if:

a. The premises or location is located within Bellingham’s downtown entertainment district or Fairhaven entertainment district established in BMC 10.24.120, as presently constituted or hereinafter amended or recodified; and

b. The premises or location has a certificate of occupancy of fewer than 600 persons; and

c. The person conducting or operating the premises or location, or any other person authorized by such person, hosts or presents paid live music on at least three separate days per calendar week at the premises or location, on average per quarter. For purposes of this subsection, “paid live music” is defined as an active performance of music by an individual or individuals who are paid for the performance and who, at the time of and during the performance, create live music other than, or in addition to, any pre-recorded music, for an audience through the use or manipulation of voice, instruments, or electronic or computerized equipment; and

d. The premises or location is current with all license and tax requirements.

2. A premises or location that has obtained more than three violations of law concerning public health, public safety, noise, licensing, taxing or permitting related to the ownership, possession, occupation, operation, use or maintenance of the premises or location in any 12-month period shall be ineligible for a certificate of exemption for a period of one year from the date of the last violation. For purposes of this subsection, a premises or location has obtained a violation if there is a legally binding final decision, order, citation, or other finding of violation entered by any court, adjudicative body or government agency against any legal owner, operator, manager, or employee of the premises or location, or any other person hosting or presenting live music at the premises or location.

3. Any person conducting or operating a premises or location seeking a certificate of exemption under this subsection, who has not previously been issued a certificate of exemption for the same premises or location, shall present to the director a copy of the certificate of occupancy for the premises, and shall submit a completed application for the certificate of exemption on forms and in a manner prescribed by the director. The application shall contain a certification that the conditions set forth in subsection (D)(1) of this section will be satisfied during the period that the certificate of exemption is to be in effect, and a separate certification that the premises or location is not ineligible under subsection (D)(2) of this section. The director shall issue a certificate of exemption for the premises, unless the director finds that the eligibility requirements of subsections (D)(1) and (2) of this section are not met. A certificate of exemption is nontransferable, shall be valid only with respect to the original applicant, and shall apply only to the premises or location that is the subject of the application.

4. On a quarterly basis, each person to whom a certificate of exemption has been issued shall report, on forms prescribed by the director, information sufficient to verify that during the corresponding quarter, the premises or location was in compliance with the requirements of this subsection, including, but not limited to, the requirements in subsections (D)(1) and (2) of this section, and that the premises or location can continue to meet the requirements. The director shall establish by rule the information required. The report shall be due in accordance with the provisions pertaining to the quarterly due dates for remittance of tax under this chapter.

5. Each person to whom a certificate of exemption has been issued shall immediately notify the director if a premises or location for which a certificate of exemption has been issued fails to be eligible under subsection (D)(1) or (2) of this section, or fails to be in compliance with any requirement contained in this subsection or any rule or regulation of the director implementing it.

6. The director shall cancel the certificate of exemption of a location or premises upon a determination by the director:

a. That a person secured the certificate of exemption by making a false representation in the application for the certificate; or

b. That the premises or location is ineligible for a certificate of exemption under subsection (D)(1) or (2) of this section; or

c. That the premises or location is not in compliance with any requirement contained in this subsection or any rule or regulation of the director implementing it; or

d. That, during any quarterly period, the premises or location fails to host or present live music on at least 80 percent of the number of days that the premises is required to present live music under subsection (D)(1) of this section during that quarterly period; or

e. That the person to whom the certificate of exemption has been issued no longer conducts or operates the premises or location that is the subject of the exemption.

7. A person whose certificate of exemption has been cancelled may re-apply for a certificate for the same premises or location, but no re-application shall be approved unless the person shows that the premises or location is eligible under the requirements of this subsection and all rules and regulations of the director implementing it at the time of the re-application, and further, that the location or premises has been in compliance with subsection (D)(1) and (2) of this section during the 30-day period prior to the re-application. Any person wishing to re-apply shall submit the material required in subsection (D)(3) of this section, which material shall be current as of the date of the re-application, and, in addition, shall submit all information required by the director as established by rule.

8. The director shall not issue a certificate of exemption to any person who is found by the director to have made a false representation on any application or re-application made under this subsection.

9. Any person to whom a certificate of exemption has been issued shall promptly notify the director of any change of address. If the director has cancelled a certificate of exemption, the director shall provide notice of the cancellation to the person to whom the certificate of exemption was issued by mailing such notice in writing to the address of the person as last reported to the director.

10. Any person whose certificate of exemption has been cancelled may contest the cancellation by filing a written request for hearing with the Bellingham hearing examiner within 10 days after the mailing of the notice of cancellation. If the person whose certificate of exemption has been cancelled files a written request for hearing within the prescribed period, the hearing examiner shall schedule and conduct a hearing in accordance with the applicable hearing examiner rules. [Ord. 2016-01-003 § 1; Ord. 10148, 1990; Ord. 9575, 1986; Ord. 8924 § 3, 1981].

4.74.040 Sign to be posted.

Whenever a charge is made for admission to any place, a sign shall be posted in a conspicuous place on the entrance or ticket office by the seller stating that a city admission tax of $0.01 on each $0.20 or fraction thereof is included in the admission charge. [Ord. 8924 § 4, 1981].

4.74.060 Collection and remittance of taxes.

A. Collection and Remittance. Any person, including any municipal or quasi-municipal corporation who receives any payment for any admission charge on which a tax is levied under this chapter shall collect the amount of the tax from the person making the admission payment and shall remit the same to the clerk as provided in this chapter. The tax required to be collected under this chapter shall be deemed to be held in trust by the person required to collect the same until remitted to the clerk as provided in this chapter.

B. Liability for Tax Not Collected. Any person required to collect the tax imposed under this chapter who fails to collect same, or who collects the same but fails to remit the same to the clerk, in the manner prescribed by this chapter shall be liable to the city for the amount of such tax, and shall, unless remittance is made as required in this chapter, be guilty of a violation of this chapter whether such failure is the result of his own act or the result of acts or conditions beyond the person’s control.

C. Remittance to the Clerk. The tax imposed hereunder shall be collected at the time the admission charge is paid by the person seeking admission to any place and shall be reported and remitted by the person receiving the tax to the clerk in quarterly installments and remittances thereof on or before the fifteenth of the month next succeeding the end of the quarterly period in which the tax is collected or approved; provided, that the first return and remittance under this chapter shall be made on or before the fifteenth day of July, 1981, and shall cover the period from and including April 1, 1981, to and including June 30, 1981.

D. Remittance May Be by Check. Payment or remittance of the tax collected may be made by check, unless payment or remittance is otherwise required by the clerk, but payment by check shall not relieve the person collecting the tax from liability for payment and remittance of the tax unless the check is honored and is in the full and correct amount.

E. Return Required. Any person receiving any payment for such admission shall make out a return upon such form and setting forth such information as the clerk may require, showing the amount of the tax upon admission for which he is liable for the preceding quarterly period, and shall sign and transmit the same to the clerk with remittance for the amount; provided, that the clerk may, in his discretion, require verified annual returns from any person receiving admission payments setting forth such additional information as he may deem necessary to determine correctly the amount of tax collected and payable.

F. Penalty Assessed for Late Remittance. If the return provided for in this chapter is not made and the tax is not collected and paid by the due date, the clerk shall proceed in the manner provided for in BMC 4.74.110. [Ord. 8924 § 6, 1981].

4.74.070 Collection and remittance for transitory or temporary amusements.

Whenever a person makes an admission charge subject to the tax levied in this chapter, and the activity, entertainment, amusement or exhibit is of a temporary or transitory nature or there exists a reasonable question of financial responsibility, of which the clerk shall be the judge, the clerk may require the report and remittance of the tax immediately upon the collection of same, at the conclusion of the performance or exhibition, or at the conclusion of the series of performances or exhibitions or at such other times as the clerk shall determine.

The failure to comply with and requirement of the clerk as to report and remittance of the tax as required shall be a violation of this chapter. [Ord. 8924 § 7, 1981].

4.74.080 Reports and remittances by owner.

Whenever the applicant for a certificate of registration obtained for the purpose of operating or conducting a temporary or transitory amusement, entertainment or exhibition is not the owner, lessee or custodian of the building, lots or place where the amusement is to be conducted, the tax imposed by this chapter shall be reported and remitted as provided in BMC 4.74.060 by the person who is the owner, lessee or custodian if not paid by the person conducting the amusement, entertainment or exhibition. The applicant for a certificate of registration in any such case shall furnish to the clerk on the application form the name and address of the owner, lessee or custodian of the premises upon which the amusement is to be conducted, and such owner, lessee or custodian shall be notified by the clerk of the issuance of such certificate and of his joint liability for collection and remittance of such tax. [Ord. 8924 § 8, 1981].

4.74.090 Records to be kept.

It shall be the duty of every person liable for any tax imposed by this chapter to keep and preserve for a period of two years, plus the current year’s, such suitable records as may be necessary to determine the amount of any tax for which the person may be liable under the provisions of this chapter. [Ord. 8924 § 9, 1981].

4.74.100 Clerk to adopt rules and regulations.

The city clerk shall have power to adopt rules and regulations not inconsistent with the terms of this chapter, for carrying out and enforcing the payment, collection and remittance of the tax levied in this chapter and shall place on file a copy of said rules and regulations for public examination in the clerk’s office. Failure to or refusal to comply with any such rules or regulations is a violation of this chapter. [Ord. 8924 § 10, 1981].

4.74.110 Delinquent payments – Penalty.

A. If any person fails or refuses to make any return required by this chapter, the clerk shall proceed in such manner as he may deem best to obtain facts and information on which to base his estimate of the tax due. As soon as the clerk procures such facts and information as he is able to obtain upon which to base the assessment of any tax payable by any person who has failed or refused to make a return, he shall proceed to determine and assess against such person the tax and penalties provided for by this chapter and shall notify such taxpayer by mail of the total amount of such tax, penalties and interest, and the total amount shall be paid within 10 days from the date of such notice.

B. If any person fails or refuses to pay the tax required to be paid by this chapter within the time and in the amount specified by this chapter, the city clerk shall add to any tax due a penalty of 10 percent of the amount thereof for every month or fraction thereof that the tax is unpaid, but in no case shall the penalty be less than $3.00. If any taxpayer fails to file a return under this chapter within 10 days of the due date thereof and it appears that there was no tax due or paid for the period for which no return was filed, the city clerk may assess against such delinquent a penalty not to exceed $3.00 for such failure. [Ord. 8924 § 11, 1981].

4.74.120 Remittance on sale or disposal of business.

Whenever any person required to pay a tax under this chapter quits business or otherwise disposes of his business, any tax payable hereunder shall become immediately due and payable and such person shall immediately make a return and pay the tax due, and, if such tax is not paid by said person within 10 days from the date of such sale, exchange or disposal, said purchaser or successor shall likewise thereupon become liable for the payment of the full amount of such tax. [Ord. 8924 § 12, 1981].

4.74.130 Examination of books and records.

The books and records and accounts of any person collecting a tax levied under this chapter shall, as to admission charges and tax collections, be at all times subject to examination and audit by the clerk. [Ord. 8924 § 13, 1981].

4.74.140 Collection of tax by civil action.

Any registration fee or tax due and unpaid and delinquent under this chapter and all penalties therein, may be collected by civil action, which remedies shall be in addition to any and all other existing remedies. [Ord. 8924 § 14, 1981].

4.74.150 Violations – Penalty.

Each violation of or failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter constitutes a separate offense and subjects the offender to a civil infraction with a fine not to exceed $500.00. [Ord. 2013-09-073 § 5; Ord. 8924 § 15, 1981].

4.74.155 Administrative review.

Any person or corporation upon whom this tax is imposed by the finance director may appeal such determination to the hearing examiner, by filing a notice of appeal with the hearing examiner within 30 days of the time notice is received that the tax is due, or where it is believed that a certification of registration is not required. [Ord. 2002-10-069 § 5; Ord. 8924 § 16, 1981].

4.74.160 Severability.

The invalidity of any article, section, subsection, provision, clause or portion thereof or the invalidity of the application thereof to any person or circumstance shall not affect the validity of the remainder of this chapter or the validity of its application to other persons or circumstances. [Ord. 8924 § 17, 1981].