Chapter 3.23


3.23.010    Imposed.

3.23.015    Tax increased.

3.23.020    Collection required.

3.23.030    Reporting requirements.

3.23.040    Payment methods.

3.23.050    Recordkeeping requirements.

3.23.060    Inspection of records.

3.23.070    Administration by county treasurer.

3.23.080    Failure to make timely payment by telephone company.

3.23.090    Taxes, penalties and fees constitute debt to county.

3.23.100    Tax additional to others.

3.23.110    Failure to make timely payment by subscriber.

3.23.120    Refunds.

3.23.130    Notice.

3.23.140    Collection – Administrative requirements.

3.23.010 Imposed.

Pursuant to Chapter 82.14B RCW, there is hereby levied an excise tax of $0.50 per month on each radio access line for which the place of primary use is Whatcom County, to assist in financing the Whatcom County emergency services communications system. The “place of primary use” has the meaning ascribed to it in the federal Mobile Telecommunications Sourcing Act, P.L. 106-252. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 1).

3.23.015 Tax increased.

The amount of local excise tax imposed on the use of switched access lines, radio access lines, and interconnected voice over Internet protocol service lines will be increased to the maximum allowed under law, which is $0.70 per month per line, effective January 1, 2011. (Ord. 2010-042).

3.23.020 Collection required.

Each radio communications service company providing radio access lines to end users in Whatcom County is required to collect the tax imposed by WCC 3.23.010, in trust for Whatcom County. The tax imposed by WCC 3.23.010 shall be set forth separately on each billing statement sent to each end user by a radio communications service company. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 2).

3.23.030 Reporting requirements.

Each radio communications service company shall report and remit to the Whatcom County treasurer using forms prescribed by the department, the amount of tax to be collected by each within 30 days following the month in which collection is to take place. Companies collecting the tax shall be reimbursed for the actual costs of administration and collection of the tax. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 3).

3.23.040 Payment methods.

Taxes payable hereunder shall be remitted to the Whatcom County treasurer, on or before the time required, by cash, bank draft, certified check, cashier’s check, personal check, or money order. If payment is made by draft or check, the tax shall not be deemed paid until the draft or check is honored in the usual course of business; nor shall the acceptance of any sum by the county treasurer be an acquittance or discharge of the tax unless the amount paid is the full amount due. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 3(a)).

3.23.050 Recordkeeping requirements.

Each telephone company collecting the tax imposed by this chapter shall maintain books and/or records respecting that activity which truly, completely and accurately disclose all information necessary to determine the taxpayer’s tax liability hereunder during each base tax period. Such records shall be kept and maintained for a period of not less than three years. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 3(b)).

3.23.060 Inspection of records.

A. All books, records or other items which may hereafter be required to be kept and maintained under this section shall be subject to, and immediately made available for, inspection and audit at any time, with or without notice, at the place where such records are kept upon demand by the county treasurer or his designee, for the purpose of enforcing the provisions of this chapter.

B. Where a telephone company does not keep such books, records, or other items so that the county treasurer or his authorized designee may examine them conveniently, the telephone company shall either:

1. Produce all of the required books, records or items for such inspection within 10 days following a written request by the treasurer; or

2. Bear the actual cost of inspection by the county treasurer or his designee, at the location at which such books, records, or items are located. Actual cost shall consist of the cost of travel, meals, and lodging incurred as a result of said inspection; provided, that a telephone company choosing to bear these costs shall pay in advance to said officer the estimated cost thereof including, but not limited to, round trip fare by the most rapid means, lodging, meals, and incidental expenses. The actual amount due, or to be refunded, for the expenses shall be determined within 60 days following the examination. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 3(c)).

3.23.070 Administration by county treasurer.

The administration and collection of the tax imposed by this chapter, as collected by the telephone companies, shall be by the county treasurer pursuant to the terms of this chapter and such rules, regulations and further enactments as may be adopted by the county council or provided by state law. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 4).

3.23.080 Failure to make timely payment by telephone company.

A. If full payment of any tax or fee collected under this chapter is not received by the Whatcom County treasurer on or before the date due, there shall be added to the collected amount due a penalty fee as follows:

1. One to 10 days late: Five percent of tax collected;

2. Eleven to 20 days late: 10 percent of tax collected;

3. Twenty-one to 30 days late: 15 percent of tax collected;

4. Thirty-one to 60 days late: 20 percent of tax collected;

5. Sixty-one days or more late: 25 percent of tax collected;

but in no event shall the penalty amount be less than $500.00. In addition to this penalty, the county treasurer may charge the telephone company interest of eight percent of all taxes collected for each 30-day period, or portion thereof, that said amounts are past due.

B. Failure to make payment in full of all tax amounts collected, and penalties, within 60 days following the day the tax amount initially became due shall be deemed a violation of this section and may be collected in accordance with the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 5).

3.23.090 Taxes, penalties and fees constitute debt to county.

Any tax collected and unpaid under this chapter, and all penalties, shall constitute a debt to Whatcom County and may be collected by court proceedings the same as any other debt in like amount. This provision shall be in addition to, and not in lieu of, all other existing remedies. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 6).

3.23.100 Tax additional to others.

The tax levied herein shall be additional to any license, fee or tax imposed or levied under any law or by any other ordinance of Whatcom County. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 7).

3.23.110 Failure to make timely payment by subscriber.

By “subscriber” is meant any person, group, corporation or entity who is billed for a telephone access line. Any subscriber who shall refuse or knowingly fail to remit the tax imposed by this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 8).

3.23.120 Refunds.

In the event that the tax or any portion thereof imposed by WCC 3.23.010 is ordered to be refunded by final judgment of a court of record, the county shall, upon presentation of a certified copy of the final judgment, pay to each radio communications service company the portion of the ordered refund attributable to tax collected by the company, in trust for the benefit of end users from whom the tax was collected. Each company is required to promptly remit, to each end user who paid tax for which refund was ordered, the duly allocable portion of the refund held in trust. To the extent end users entitled to refund cannot be identified or located by the company with exercise of due diligence within three months of the date refund is received in trust by the company, the company shall return the undistributed trust funds and accumulations to the county, together with the last known name and address of each person entitled thereto, and the portion to which each is entitled. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 9).

3.23.130 Notice.

The Whatcom County executive is directed to provide notice of the tax imposed by WCC 3.23.010 to each radio communications service company providing radio access lines in Whatcom County, at least 60 days prior to the effective date of the tax. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 10).

3.23.140 Collection – Administrative requirements.

The Whatcom County executive is authorized to adopt administrative requirements for collection similar to those applying to providers collecting excise tax on switched access lines, giving due regard to the statutory, regulatory and operational differences between the providers of switched access lines and radio access lines. (Ord. 2002-045; Ord. 94-036 § 11).