Chapter 3.10
PASSENGER TRANSPORTATION BUSINESS TAX

Sections:

3.10.010    Levy of tax.

3.10.020    Election.

3.10.030    Results of election.

3.10.040    Update of information.

3.10.050    Tax payment.

3.10.060    Computation of tax.

3.10.070    Penalties and interest.

3.10.080    Certificates of election.

3.10.090    Transfer of business, successor liability to the City.

3.10.100    Enforcement authority, request for administrative rulings.

3.10.110    Returns, confidentiality requirement, exceptions.

3.10.120    Final return, required information.

3.10.130    Records, taxpayer recordkeeping required, loss of records.

3.10.140    Audit – Investigation authority, taxpayer’s consent to inspection of tax returns.

3.10.150    Estimate of tax due, audit.

3.10.160    Civil and criminal actions, payment agreements.

3.10.170    Failure to keep adequate records.

3.10.180    Tax liens.

3.10.300    Definitions.

3.10.010 Levy of tax.

There is levied upon and there shall be paid a passenger transportation business tax by each passenger transportation business that qualifies and elects to be subject to the tax levied under this chapter. The tax levied under this chapter shall be applicable to each electing, accepted passenger transportation business for so long as the election is effective.

3.10.020 Election.

A. A passenger transportation business may elect to be subject to this chapter by filing with the tax administrator of the City a completed application on a form provided by the City. Upon a determination that the applicant meets the requirements of subsection (B) of this section, the tax administrator shall issue to the applicant a notice of acceptance of election which shall contain the effective date for the election. The effective date for the election shall be the date of the notice of acceptance of the election or such earlier date as may be requested by the applicant and approved by the tax administrator.

B. Each applicant under this section shall submit a complete application, properly executed by a person authorized to bind the applicant under this chapter for each name under which the applicant does business in the City of Whittier. The application shall state the full name of the applicant and the name under which the applicant will do business and:

1. The name of the person in charge, physical and mailing address, telephone number, and facsimile number for:

a. The office or agent for the business that is located within the City of Whittier;

b. The office or agent within Alaska that is responsible for the administration of the provision of transportation services into or out of the City of Whittier;

c. The headquarters, central or other office to which the office under subsection (B)(1)(b) of this section reports.

2. A description of the type of passenger transportation services that are or will be provided into or out of Whittier, including the approximate passenger capacity of the conveyances that will be used, the estimated number of passengers that will be brought into Whittier and the estimated number of passengers that will be transported out of Whittier during the calendar year for each mode or different form of conveyance that will be used by the business, and a description of the relationship of the applicant to any other passenger transportation business with respect to passengers of the applicant that will be transported into or out of the City of Whittier by such other passenger transportation business.

3. All sales taxes collected by the applicant on the sale or performance of passenger transportation services sold or performed within the City of Whittier prior to the effective date of the election that have not been paid over to the City and an agreement to pay to the City within 10 business days of the date of notification of the acceptance by the City of the election all other sales taxes collected prior to the receipt of the notification.

4. A certification or agreement that all passengers transported on and after the effective date of the election for whom transportation services are or were provided, but upon whose transportation services or purchase of service the Whittier sales tax was not collected will be reported for the purpose of computing the tax due under this chapter.

5. A copy of the current Alaska business license issued to the business.

6. A copy of the current City of Whittier business license issued to the business.

7. The name, title, physical and mailing addresses, telephone and facsimile numbers for the following persons:

a. The chief executive officer;

b. The chief financial officer;

c. The controller, comptroller, or treasurer, if other than the chief financial officer;

d. The person or persons who will be primarily responsible for filing the return, verifying its accuracy and paying the tax under this chapter; and

e. Each other person who is authorized to pay or to require others within the business to pay the tax under this chapter to the City. [Ord. 29-2015 § 2, 2015; Ord. 350-97 § 2, 1997].

3.10.030 Results of election.

A. Upon the acceptance by the City of an election under this chapter, the election shall be effective from the date set out in the notice of acceptance issued under WMC 3.10.020. Passengers who are provided transportation services by an accepted business are exempt from the sales tax levied under Chapter 3.08 WMC on transportation services provided to the passenger by the accepted business and the accepted business is exempt from the collection and payment over to the City of the sales tax that would otherwise apply to transportation services provided by the accepted business to the passenger. The exemptions set out in this subsection do not apply to sales of passenger transportation services made or provided within the City prior to the effective date of the election or to sales or performance upon which the sales tax was collected whether collected before or after the effective date.

B. Upon acceptance of the election by the City, the accepted business becomes a taxpayer under this chapter and shall continue to be a taxpayer under this chapter from year to year without re-application. The status as a taxpayer under this chapter shall continue with respect to an accepted business that is sold, merged, reorganized or changed in form or in name in any other way in which the business operations or goodwill of the taxpayer come into the possession, control or ownership of any person that is different from the accepted business.

C. A taxpayer may not withdraw an election accepted by the City or otherwise elect to have the sales tax under Chapter 3.08 WMC apply to the sale or performance of passenger transportation services provided or to be provided by the taxpayer except upon written approval by the tax administrator. Such approval may not be given unless the tax administrator, with the concurrence of the City Manager, is satisfied that the taxpayer has paid to the City an amount equal to the sales tax that, but for the sales tax exemption under this chapter, would have been collected on sales made and services provided within the City that have not been accounted for in the tax levied under this chapter plus the tax that is due under this chapter as of the date of the approval for the taxpayer to withdraw its election. The tax administrator may require the payment of such additional amount as may be necessary to insure that the transportation of each passenger by the taxpayer either is or will be subject to the sales tax under Chapter 3.08 WMC or will or has been counted in the computation of the tax under this chapter. Prior to the approval by the tax administrator of the withdrawal of the taxpayer under this subsection, the taxpayer shall return all original certificates issued to the taxpayer under WMC 3.10.080. [Ord. 350-97 § 3, 1997].

3.10.040 Update of information.

Upon the sale of an accepted business, a change of the name of the business, a change in the form of the business or a change in the address of any office as last provided to the City, the taxpayer shall promptly provide, in writing, notice to the tax administrator of such changes, with an update of the information required on an application for election under WMC 3.10.020(B)(1), (2), (5) and (7). [Ord. 29-2015 § 3, 2015].

3.10.050 Tax payment.

A. The tax due under this chapter shall be paid by the taxpayer and shall be remitted by the passenger transportation business to the City on a quarterly basis for each quarterly tax period during which a passenger has been transported into the City by a passenger transportation business. The tax is due and shall be delinquent if the full amount due is not transmitted to or received by the City by the last business day of the month following the tax period for which the tax is due.

B. For each quarterly tax period during which a passenger has been transported into the City by a passenger transportation business, the passenger transportation business shall file a completed and executed tax return on a form provided by the tax administrator. The complete return and the full amount of the tax due, with all tax, interest and penalties due for any prior quarterly tax period must be received by the City by 5:00 p.m., or must be mailed and clearly postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service prior to midnight, on the last business day of the month following the tax period. If no date and time are affixed by the U.S. Postal Service, or if either the date or time affixed by the U.S. Postal Service is unclear, the date of actual receipt by the City shall be the date received. For the purpose of this section, Saturdays, Sundays and State holidays that are observed annually are not included in determining the tenth business day of the month.

C. A return that is incomplete, is not accompanied by required documents, or that has not been dated and signed is not filed under this section until the defect has been corrected or supplied or a complete and properly executed form has been provided to the City. Each return must include a copy of such backup documents or summaries as may be required from the taxpayer by a written notice from the tax administrator in addition to those noted on the return form provided by the City as being required as a part of the return. Such required documents may include documents such as passenger manifests, confirmed passenger counts or other documents of a similar or different nature that the tax administrator determines may be useful in determining or confirming the tax due. A return that is submitted without the required additional documents is incomplete and is not filed until the City has received such documents. The return must be accompanied by the payment of the entire tax due plus all unpaid taxes, interest and penalties from prior tax periods. A return that is not accompanied by such payment is incomplete and is not filed under this section until such payment is received by the City.

D. A return received by the City on or before 5:00 p.m. of the tenth business day of the month following the month for which the tax is due or which is mailed and postmarked prior to midnight of the tenth business day of such month and which is incomplete both when received and after the tenth business day of the month is not timely filed, and shall be subject to the penalties and interest as may be applicable under WMC 3.10.070 until the return is complete and may be filed as a complete return. [Ord. 29-2015 § 4, 2015; Ord. 28-2015 § 3, 2015; Ord. 07-2014 § 2, 2014; Ord. 05-2014 § 2, 2014].

3.10.060 Computation of tax.

A. The tax due for each monthly tax period under this chapter is the amount determined by multiplying the sum of the number of passengers transported into the City by the taxpayer plus the number of passengers transported outside the City, during the tax period, by the following amounts:

1. For passengers transported by vessel: $3.00.

2. For passengers transported by ground: $0.00.

B. Each time a passenger is transported into or out of the City shall be a separate taxable event for purposes of computing the tax under this chapter. [Ord. 29-2015 § 5, 2015; Ord. 07-2014 § 3, 2014; Ord. 05-2014 § 3, 2014; Ord. 522-07 § 2, 2007].

3.10.070 Penalties and interest.

A. Interest shall accrue on all delinquent taxes at a rate of 15 percent per annum until paid, and shall accrue on a penalty only after a penalty or part thereof has been unpaid for 180 days following the date of written notice of the penalty due.

B. A return that is untimely filed, including returns that are treated as not filed because they are incomplete, shall accrue a penalty of five percent of the total tax due for the tax period, whether or not the tax has been paid, for each month and part of a month during which such return remains not filed. The minimum penalty for a delinquent filing is $100.00.

C. For any tax payment that is not received before the delinquency date or which is less than the amount owed, the taxpayer shall pay a penalty of five percent of the taxes due but not timely received to which there shall be added an amount equal to five percent of the delinquent amount for each month or part of a month during which any delinquency in the payment continues. The minimum penalty for a delinquent payment of any amount is $100.00.

D. A penalty of $100.00 shall be paid by a taxpayer who fails to provide the information requested under WMC 3.10.040 within 30 days of the date of the written request from the City.

E. A taxpayer who fails to make records available within 15 days of the date of the written request for such records pursuant to WMC 3.10.140, or such later time as the City may specify or agree shall pay a penalty of $300.00 plus an amount equal to the delinquent taxes found to be owing as a result of the examination or audit of such records. The penalty under this section is in addition to the penalty for delinquent taxes, the additional taxes found to be owing as a result of the examination or audit of the records and the interest on such delinquent taxes.

F. Upon receipt of any payment from a taxpayer for payment of any amount that may be due under this chapter, and not withstanding any designation of the purpose or statement of intended application of such payment by the taxpayer, the City shall apply such amount first to the oldest penalties that are due until all penalties are paid; it shall then apply the balance to the oldest interest due, until all interest is paid; it shall then apply the balance to the oldest principal due until all taxes are paid.

G. The total penalty for the delinquent filing of a return shall not exceed the greater of $100.00 or 50 percent of the tax due for the month of delinquency. The total penalty for a delinquent payment shall not exceed the greater of $100.00 or 50 percent of the delinquent amount. [Ord. 350-97 § 4, 1997].

3.10.080 Certificates of election.

Upon request of the taxpayer, and the payment of $5.00 for each certificate, the City shall issue one or more sequentially numbered certificates to the taxpayer certifying that the taxpayer is subject to the passenger transportation business tax. Each certificate shall bear the original signature of the City Clerk and the tax administrator or the Manager, shall be embossed by the City Clerk with the seal of the City, shall be given a sequential and unique number and shall contain a statement that a copy or other reproduction of the certificate is not valid for any purpose. A certificate issued under this section is the only document that may be used to verify the status of the taxpayer under WMC 3.08.100(A)(18)(d).

3.10.090 Transfer of business, successor liability to the City.

A. Any person acquiring an ownership interest in an ongoing accepted business or the accounts receivable of an accepted business, whether by purchase, assignment, foreclosure, conveyance in lieu of foreclosure, relinquishment, or otherwise, shall be liable for the payment of taxes, penalties and interest accrued, accruing, and unpaid to the City on account of the operation of the business by the former owner, owners or assigns. Each person acquiring any interest in an accepted business or the accounts receivable of such a business shall request a statement from the City of the actual and estimated amount of current and past due passenger transportation business taxes, penalties and interest owed by the business as of the date of the request. The person acquiring the business or accounts receivable shall withhold from the acquisition price and pay over to the City the current taxes due and the past due taxes, interest and penalty.

B. The liability of a purchaser or other person acquiring an accepted business or the accounts receivable of an accepted business for outstanding taxes, penalties and interest accrued under this chapter and unpaid by the former owner through the date of the request from the purchaser shall be limited to an amount stated in writing by the City in response to a request from the purchaser for a statement of passenger transportation business tax liability.

3.10.100 Enforcement authority, request for administrative rulings.

A. The tax administrator shall enforce the reporting and the tax, penalty and interest payment requirements imposed under this chapter.

B. Any person who may be obligated to pay the tax under this chapter, or any City official, may apply to the tax administrator for a determination on the application of this chapter to an actual fact situation. The tax administrator, with such review and assistance as may be required from the City Attorney, shall provide a written interpretation of the applicability of this chapter to the fact situation described. The City shall be bound by a written determination issued under this subsection (B), but only with respect to the person to whom the interpretation is issued, and only for so long as such interpretation has not been revoked, withdrawn or modified and none of the code sections upon which the interpretation is based have been amended or repealed. With the approval of the City Attorney, the tax administrator may issue generally applicable rulings and interpretations which shall be effective until revoked, withdrawn or modified and none of the code sections upon which the ruling or interpretation is based have been amended or repealed.

3.10.110 Returns, confidentiality requirement, exceptions.

A. Returns which include remittance in full of all taxes due and which are timely and properly filed with the City for the purposes of complying with the terms of this chapter and all data obtained from such returns are confidential, and such returns and data obtained therefrom shall be kept from inspection by all private persons. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit the audit and investigation by the City of any return filed under this chapter or of the books and records of any taxpayer required to file any return under this chapter.

B. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit the delivery to a person, or his duly authorized representative, of a copy of any return or report filed by him, nor to prohibit the publication of statistics so classified as to prevent the identification of particular buyers or taxpayers, nor to prohibit the furnishing of information on a reciprocal basis to other agencies or political subdivisions of the State or the United States concerned with the enforcement of tax laws.

C. Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to prohibit the disclosure through enforcement action proceedings or by public inspection or publication of the name, estimated balance due, and current status of payments, and filings of any who fails to file a return or who fails to remit in full all taxes due by the date required under this chapter. Entry into any agreement whether pursuant to the provisions of this chapter or otherwise shall not act as a prohibition to disclosure of the records of that taxpayer as otherwise provided in this chapter.

D. A prospective lessee or purchaser of an accepted business or interest in such business may inquire as to the obligation or tax status of such business and may receive such confidential information as may be authorized for release in a release of tax information request signed by the owner or chief executive officer of the accepted business.

E. Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the City may disclose any information, data or records of a taxpayer that are in the possession of the City in any civil or criminal action brought by the City in the enforcement of any provision of this chapter.

3.10.120 Final return, required information.

Fifteen days prior to the sale, lease, or other disposition, or change in ownership interest, other than a transfer or outstanding shares of stock, or upon incorporation of an accepted business, the accepted business seller shall file a notice with the City together with an informational return identifying the name and address of each person or entity involved in the change, the nature of the change, the effective date of the change, the unpaid tax liability under this chapter and an estimate of the additional liability that will accrue by the effective date of the change.

3.10.130 Records, taxpayer recordkeeping required, loss of records.

A. Every taxpayer subject to this chapter shall keep and preserve suitable records of all passenger transportation services provided, purchased or sold and such other records, documents, books or accounts as may be necessary to determine the amount of tax the taxpayer is obligated to pay. Every taxpayer shall preserve suitable records of relevant activities and transactions for a period of six years from the date of the return for the tax period for which the tax return is filed and all such other books, invoices, manifests and other records as may be necessary to accurately determine the amount of taxes which the taxpayer was obliged to pay under this chapter.

B. A taxpayer shall immediately notify the City of any fire, theft or other casualty which prevents compliance with this chapter. The casualty constitutes a defense to any penalty provided in this chapter if determined to be the proximate cause of the failure to comply for a given reporting period, but does not excuse the taxpayer from liability for taxes and interest and for penalty otherwise due. Accidental loss of funds or records is not a defense against the liability for taxes required to be paid, interest and penalties under this chapter.

3.10.140 Audit – Investigation authority, taxpayer’s consent to inspection of tax returns.

A. For the purpose of ascertaining the correctness of a return the tax administrator may hold investigations and hearings concerning any matters or records of any taxpayer, may require the attendance of any taxpayer, or any officer or employee of a taxpayer at the hearing and may require production of all relevant business records.

B. A passenger transportation business that is accepted by the City under this chapter consents to the inspection of the taxpayer’s business records, reports, audits and other records. Upon the written request of the tax administrator or the tax administrator’s agent, a taxpayer shall provide all relevant, requested records for examination in Whittier, Alaska, within 15 calendar days or such longer time as may be specified in the written request or as may be agreed upon by the City and the taxpayer. The City may agree to the production of records at a place other than Whittier and may condition such agreement upon the taxpayer advancing or reimbursing all expenses, including additional personnel, auditor or investigator expenses, incurred or to be incurred because of the production at a different place. [Ord. 29-2015 § 6, 2015].

3.10.150 Estimate of tax due, audit.

In the event that the City is unable to ascertain the amount of tax due from the taxpayer because the taxpayer has failed to keep accurate records, to allow inspection of records, has failed to file a return or has falsified records, then the City shall estimate the tax due based upon any information available to it. The estimate, including interest and penalties due to the date of the estimate, shall become final for the purpose of determining liability of the taxpayer 30 calendar days from the date the City mails notice of the estimate to the taxpayer unless the taxpayer earlier files an accurate, auditable return indicating a lesser liability or unless a greater liability is shown upon audit. If the City audits a taxpayer following the filing of an estimate under this section by the City, and the audit shows that more tax is due than was set out in the City’s estimate, the taxpayer shall be liable for an audit fee equal to the cost to the City of the audit, in addition to any other penalties or fees due under this chapter.

3.10.160 Civil and criminal actions, payment agreements.

A. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent the City from filing and maintaining a civil action to recover any taxes, penalties, interest, and fees due from a taxpayer.

B. The tax administrator may enter into an agreement secured by a confession of judgment or a deed of trust on property with sufficient equity to cover the liability for delinquent taxes, interest, penalty and fees on such payment terms as the tax administrator finds reasonable; provided, that the terms shall require full payment of all obligations of the taxpayer within a maximum period of 24 months from entry of such an agreement, unless a shorter term is required by other provisions of this code, in which case those provisions shall be followed. The tax administrator may not enter a repayment agreement with a taxpayer who has been involved in a repayment agreement under this subsection or WMC 3.08.350(B) within the prior five years, unless otherwise provided in this code.

C. A person convicted of a violation of a provision of this chapter shall be subject to a fine of not more than $500.00; provided, for a subsequent conviction for a violation of any provision of this chapter that occurs within three years of a prior conviction for a violation of any provision of this chapter, the person shall be subject to a fine of not more than $1,000 and imprisonment for not more than 90 days. Each day upon which a violation continues is a separate violation. The failure or refusal of a person to comply with an order of the tax administrator specifically authorized by this chapter is a violation of a provision of this chapter.

3.10.170 Failure to keep adequate records.

A. No person may falsify or misrepresent any fact or matter in any return, statement, application, or other document submitted to the City under this chapter.

B. No person may falsify any record required to be kept by a taxpayer under this chapter. No person may submit or provide falsified or misleading records or other documents to the City or its auditor.

C. A taxpayer may not refuse to allow inspection at reasonable times of records required by this chapter to be kept by the taxpayer.

D. Misrepresentation of a fact or a matter occurs and documents are misleading when the representation or information is presented as complete with respect to the subject but additional, undisclosed, relevant facts or information known, or that should be known, to the taxpayer would cause the person examining the representation or document to understand or interpret the representation, information or document in a manner less favorable to the taxpayer.

3.10.180 Tax liens.

A. The tax administrator may cause a tax lien to be filed and recorded against all real and personal property of a taxpayer where the taxpayer has:

1. Failed to file tax returns for two consecutive filing periods as required by the chapter; or

2. Failed to pay all taxes, penalties and interest due for more than two consecutive filing periods.

B. Prior to filing a tax lien, the tax administrator shall cause an additional written notice of intent to file a lien to be mailed by certified mail to the last known address of the delinquent taxpayer. Neither the failure to mail such notice, nor the failure of the taxpayer to receive such notice invalidates a lien filed by the City.

3.10.300 Definitions.

Unless the context clearly indicates that a different meaning is intended, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings set out in this section:

“Accepted business” or “accepted passenger transportation business” means a passenger transportation business that has elected to be subject to this chapter whose election has been accepted by the City and not subsequently withdrawn under the withdrawal provisions of the chapter; such a passenger transportation business is also referred to as the “taxpayer” under this chapter.

“Calendar year” means the year beginning January 1st and ending on December 31st of each year.

“City” means the City of Whittier in the geographic sense or the administration of the City of Whittier, as appropriate to the context.

“Conveyance” means any contrivance designed or used for the transportation of individuals from one point to another and includes aircraft, vessels, rail cars, rail flatbeds, high rail, motor vehicles, including automobiles, passenger vans, passenger buses, motorcycles, motorized scooters and bikes, other two-, three-, and four-wheeled vehicles, motorized track-driven vehicles, sleds, trailers and other towed vehicles used for transportation of passengers and other vehicles used to transport passengers whether motor, human or animal-powered.

“Monthly” means the period beginning the first day of a calendar month and ending with the last day of a calendar month.

“Passenger” means an individual who is moved aboard a conveyance for consideration, whether by air, water or land, including rail transportation in connection with passenger motor vehicles transported by rail, whether the transportation is provided pursuant to a pass, coupon, cash, credit, ticket, voucher, or other instrument, agreement or understanding that entitles the individual to be provided passenger transportation services without regard to the cost to the individual of the instrument, agreement or understanding entitling the individual to transportation service. “Passenger” does not include the owner or operator of the conveyance, crew members, drivers, tour guides or others who are employed by the passenger transportation business who are on duty while being transported with passengers, nor a passenger whose right to the transportation service within Whittier was purchased prior to April 1, 1997, if the transportation service was provided during 1997.

“Passenger transportation business” means any person who engages in any commercial activity that involves providing transportation services directly to passengers. A passenger whose rail fare into or out of Whittier is paid to the railroad by a person providing transportation, tour, adventure or other activities or rentals in connection with such activities is a passenger of the business of such person.

“Person” means and includes individuals and every organization or entity recognized in law and every group of persons acting as a unit.

“Quarterly tax period” means a three-month period that begins on January 1st, April 1st, July 1st or October 1st.

“Tax administrator” means the person designated by the Manager as the tax administrator for purposes of this chapter but shall be the City Treasurer if no such designation is made.

“Taxpayer” means the passenger transportation business that has elected to be subject to this chapter and whose election has been accepted by the City and not subsequently withdrawn under the withdrawal provisions of this chapter.

“Transportation service” means a service involving the movement of a passenger by a passenger transportation business from one point to another by means of a conveyance, ordinarily for compensation. It includes tours, adventures, shuttles, fishing charters, wildlife and nature viewing trips and other activities in which the movement of passengers is involved. It includes trips in human powered vessels conducted by a paid guide, without regard to the ownership of the vessels, but does not include trips involving vessels owned by a business and chartered or rented to others if no guide, crew, agent, or employee of the vessel owner is aboard the vessel to operate the vessel or to provide the charter party or renter with advice or assistance in operating or navigating the vessel and if no such person operates a separate vessel as a guide for one or more passengers in other vessels.

“Vessel” means all watercraft, including, but not limited to, boats, ships, vessels, canoes, kayaks, personal watercraft and barges, whether engine, motor, wind or human powered.

“Weekly” means the week beginning on Sunday and ending with Saturday. [Ord. 29-2015 § 7, 2015; Ord. 377-98 § 3, 1998].