Chapter 3.12
UTILITY TAX

Sections:

3.12.010    Use and accountability of tax proceeds.

3.12.020    Levied.

3.12.030    Definitions.

3.12.040    Occupations subject to tax – Amount.

3.12.050    Tax year.

3.12.060    Exceptions and deductions.

3.12.070    Monthly installments.

3.12.080    Taxpayer’s records.

3.12.090    Failure to make returns or to pay the tax in full.

3.12.100    Penalty for delinquent payment.

3.12.110    Overpayment of tax.

3.12.120    Noncompliance – Penalty.

3.12.130    Appeal.

3.12.140    City manager to make rules.

3.12.150    Tax relief.

3.12.160    Referendum procedure.

3.12.170    Exclusive procedure.

3.12.180    Utility tax relief program established.

3.12.190    Utility tax relief for solid waste, electricity and gas services.

3.12.200    Utility tax deduction for Recology CleanScapes and Puget Sound Energy for this program.

3.12.210    Utility tax relief for telephone (not including cellular telephone) and cable television services.

3.12.220    Utility tax relief filing procedures.

3.12.010 Use and accountability of tax proceeds.

All revenues collected pursuant to this chapter shall be deposited into the general fund, and shall be used for the funding of city services or capital facilities as the council shall direct through its annual budget process. [Ord. 343 § 1, 2001]

3.12.020 Levied.

The tax provided for in this chapter shall be known as the “utility tax,” and is levied upon the privilege of conducting an electric energy, natural or manufactured gas, telephone, or cable television business within the city of Burien effective February 3, 2002, and upon the privilege of conducting a solid waste collection business within the city of Burien effective December 1, 2002. [Ord. 368 § 1, 2002; Ord. 343 § 2, 2001]

3.12.030 Definitions.

(1) Use of Words and Phrases. As used in this chapter, unless the context or subject matter clearly requires otherwise, the words or phrases defined in this section shall have the indicated meanings.

(2) “Cable television services” means the transmission of video programming and associated nonvideo signals to subscribers together with subscriber interaction, if any, which is provided in connection with video programming.

(3) “City manager” means the city manager of the city of Burien, Washington, or his or her designee.

(4) “Gross income” means the value proceeding or accruing from the performance of the particular business involved, including gross proceeds of sales, compensation for the rendition of services, and receipts (including all sums earned or charged, whether received or not) by reason of investment in the business engaged in (excluding rentals, receipts or proceeds from the use or sale of real property or any interest therein, and proceeds from the sale of notes, bonds, mortgages or other evidences of indebtedness, or stocks and the like), all without any deduction on account of the cost of property sold, the cost of materials used, labor costs, taxes, interest or discount paid, delivery costs or any expenses whatsoever, and without any deduction on account of losses.

(5) “Person” means any person, firm, corporation, association, or entity of any type engaged in a business subject to taxation under this chapter.

(6) “Telephone business” means the business of providing access to a local telephone network, local telephone network switching service, toll service, or coin telephone services, or providing telephonic, video, data, pager or similar communication or transmission for hire, via a local telephone network, toll line or channel, cable, microwave, or similar communication or transmission system. The term includes cooperative or farmer line telephone companies or associations operating an exchange. “Telephone business” does not include the providing of competitive telephone service or cable television service, or other providing of broadcast services by radio or television stations.

“Cellular telephone service” means any two-way voice and data telephone or similar communications system based in whole or in substantial part on wireless radio communications, including cellular mobile service, and which is not subject to regulation by the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission. Cellular mobile service includes other wireless radio communications services including specialized mobile radio, personal communications services, and any other evolving wireless radio communications technology that accomplishes a purpose substantially similar to cellular mobile service. Cellular telephone service is included within the definition of “telephone business” for the purposes of this chapter.

“Competitive telephone service” means the providing by any person of telecommunications equipment or apparatus, directory advertising and lease of telephone street directories, or service related to that equipment or apparatus such as repair or maintenance service, if the equipment or apparatus is of a type which may be provided by persons not subject to regulation as telephone companies under RCW Title 80, and for which a separate charge is made. Transmission of communication through cellular telephones is classified as “telephone business” rather than “competitive telephone service.”

“Pager service” means service provided by means of an electronic device which has the ability to send or receive voice or digital messages transmitted through the local telephone network, via satellite or any other form of voice or data transmission. “Pager service” is included within the definition of “telephone business” for the purposes of this chapter.

(7) “Solid waste” means garbage, trash, rubbish, or other materials discarded as worthless or not economically viable for further use. The term does not include hazardous or toxic waste, and does not include yard waste or material collected primarily for recycling or salvage. [Ord. 368 § 2, 2002; Ord. 343 § 3, 2001]

3.12.040 Occupations subject to tax – Amount.

There is levied upon, and shall be collected from a person because of certain business activities engaged in or carried on in the city of Burien, taxes in the amount to be determined by the application of rates given against gross income as follows:

(1) Upon a person engaged in or carrying on the business of selling, furnishing, or transmitting electric energy, a tax equal to six percent of the total gross income from such business in the city during the period for which the tax is due;

(2) Upon a person engaged in or carrying on the business of selling, furnishing, or transmitting gas, whether natural or manufactured, a tax equal to six percent of the total gross income from such business in the city during the period for which the tax is due;

(3) Upon a person engaged in or carrying on any telephone business, a tax equal to six percent of the total gross income, including income from intrastate long distance toll service, from such business in the city during the period for which the tax is due;

(4) Upon a person engaged in or carrying on the business of selling, furnishing or transmitting cable television service, a tax equal to six percent of the total gross income from such business in the city during the period for which the tax is due;

(5) Upon a person engaged in or carrying on the business of collecting solid waste, a tax equal to six percent of the total gross income from such business in the city during the period for which the tax is due, less income derived from collection and sales of materials not defined herein as solid waste. [Ord. 570 § 1, 2012; Ord. 368 § 3, 2002; Ord. 343 § 4, 2001]

3.12.050 Tax year.

The tax year for purposes of this utility tax shall commence February 3, 2002, and end December 31, 2002, and thereafter shall commence January 1st and end December 31st. [Ord. 343 § 5, 2001]

3.12.060 Exceptions and deductions.

There is excepted and deducted from the total gross income upon which the tax is computed:

(1) So much of the total gross income as is derived from business which the city is prohibited from taxing under the constitution or laws of the United States and the constitution or laws of the state of Washington.

(2) Income derived from that portion of network telephone service, as defined in RCW 82.04.065, which represents charges to another telecommunications company, as defined in RCW 80.04.010, for connecting fees, switching charges, or carrier access charges relating to intrastate toll telephone services, or for access to, or charges for, interstate services, or charges for network telephone service that is purchased for the purpose of resale.

(3) Adjustments made to a billing or customer account in order to reverse a billing or charge that was not properly a debt of the customer.

(4) Cash discounts allowed and actually granted to customers of the taxpayer during the tax year.

(5) Uncollectible debts written off the taxpayer’s books during the tax year. If subsequently collected, the income shall be reported for the period in which collected. [Ord. 343 § 6, 2001]

3.12.070 Monthly installments.

The tax imposed by BMC 3.12.040 shall be due and payable in monthly installments, and remittance therefor shall be made on or before the last day of the month following the end of the monthly period in which the tax is accrued, unless the estimated gross income subject to the tax is less than $2,500 per three-month quarter, in which case the taxpayer may elect to pay quarterly for the preceding three-month period, on or before the thirty-first day of January, the thirtieth day of April, the thirty-first day of July, and the thirty-first day of October, at the office of the city clerk, Burien City Hall, or his or her designee. Furthermore, if the estimated gross income subject to the tax is less than $1,500 annually, the taxpayer may elect to pay annually for the preceding 12-month period, on or before the thirty-first day of January. On or before said due date, the taxpayer shall file with the city manager a written return upon such form and setting forth such information as the city manager shall reasonably require relating to the accurate computation and collection of this tax, together with the payment of the amount. [Ord. 518 § 1, 2009; Ord. 343 § 7, 2001]

3.12.080 Taxpayer’s records.

Each taxpayer shall keep records reflecting the amount of the taxpayer’s gross income on sales and services within the city, and such records shall be open at all reasonable times for the inspection of the city manager or his designee to verify information provided on any utility tax return, or to determine whether such return is required to be filed. [Ord. 343 § 8, 2001]

3.12.090 Failure to make returns or to pay the tax in full.

If a taxpayer fails, neglects, or refuses to make his return as and when required in this chapter, the city manager is authorized to determine the amount of the tax payable under provisions of BMC 3.12.040, and to notify such taxpayer of the amount so determined. The amount so fixed shall thereupon be the tax and be immediately due and payable, together with penalty and interest. Delinquent taxes, including any penalties, are subject to an interest charge of 12 percent per year on the unpaid balance from the date any such taxes became due as provided in BMC 3.12.070. [Ord. 343 § 9, 2001]

3.12.100 Penalty for delinquent payment.

If a person subject to this tax fails to pay any tax required by this chapter within 15 days after the due date thereof, there shall be added to such tax a penalty of 10 percent of the amount of such tax, and any tax due under this chapter that is unpaid and all penalties thereon shall constitute a debt to the city and may be collected by court proceedings, which remedy shall be in addition to all other remedies. [Ord. 343 § 10, 2001]

3.12.110 Overpayment of tax.

Money paid to the city through error, or otherwise not in payment of the tax imposed by this chapter, or in excess of such tax, shall, upon discovery, be credited against any tax due or to become due from such taxpayer hereunder; provided however, that overpayments extending beyond one year prior to notification of the city shall not be refunded. If such taxpayer has ceased doing business in the city, any such overpayment shall be refunded to the taxpayer. [Ord. 343 § 11, 2001]

3.12.120 Noncompliance – Penalty.

(1) No person subject to this chapter shall fail or refuse to file tax returns or to pay tax when due, nor shall any person make a false statement or representation in, or in connection with, any such tax return, or otherwise violate or refuse to comply with this chapter or with any rule promulgated pursuant to BMC 3.12.140.

(2) In addition to the interest and delinquent filing penalties set forth above, a willful violation of or failure to comply with this chapter is a civil infraction, subject to a fine of up to $250.00 for each day that a violation continues. [Ord. 343 § 12, 2001]

3.12.130 Appeal.

A taxpayer aggrieved by the amount of the tax, penalties, interest, or civil infraction fine determined to be due by the city manager or his designee, under the provisions of this chapter, may appeal such determination to the city of Burien, director of finance and administrative services or his or her designee. [Ord. 343 § 13, 2001]

3.12.140 City manager to make rules.

The city manager shall have the power to adopt and enforce rules and regulations not inconsistent with this chapter or with the law for the purposes of carrying out the provisions thereof. [Ord. 343 § 14, 2001]

3.12.150 Tax relief.

The city manager will develop and propose to the council a utility tax relief program to protect those least able to pay at the maximum level possible under the law. [Ord. 343 § 15, 2001]

3.12.160 Referendum procedure.

The provisions of the ordinance codified in this chapter are subject to the referendum procedure as follows:

(1) A referendum petition seeking to repeal the ordinance shall be filed with the city clerk, who shall be designated the person to receive petitions of all types, within seven days of the passage by the city council of the ordinance or publication thereof, whichever is later.

(2) Within 10 days, the city clerk shall confer with the petitioner concerning the form and style of the petition, issue an identification number for the petition, and cause to be written a ballot title for the measure.

(3) The ballot title shall be posed as a question, so that an affirmative answer to the question and an affirmative vote on the measure results in the tax or tax rate increase being imposed, and a negative answer to the question and a negative vote on the measure results in the tax or tax rate increase not being imposed. The petitioner shall be notified of the identification number and ballot title within this 10-day period.

(4) After notification of the identification number and ballot title, the petitioner shall have 30 days in which to secure on petition forms the signatures of not less than 15 percent of the registered voters of the city and to file the signed petitions with the city clerk.

(5) Each petition form shall contain the ballot title and the full text of the measure to be referred. The city clerk shall verify the sufficiency of the signatures on the petitions. If sufficient valid signatures are properly submitted, the city clerk shall cause the referendum measure to be submitted to the city voters at the next election within the city or at a special election as provided pursuant to RCW 35.17.260(2). [Ord. 343 § 16, 2001]

3.12.170 Exclusive procedure.

Pursuant to RCW 35.21.706, the referendum procedure set forth in BMC 3.12.160 shall be the exclusive referendum procedure for the utility tax imposed herein, and shall supersede the procedures, to the extent applicable, under Chapters 35.17 and 35A.11 RCW and all other statutory provisions for initiative or referendum which might otherwise apply. [Ord. 343 § 17, 2001]

3.12.180 Utility tax relief program established.

A utility tax relief program is established for low income Burien households in accordance with the eligibility criteria and guidelines described in the following sections of this chapter. [Ord. 350 § 1, 2002]

3.12.190 Utility tax relief for solid waste, electricity and gas services.

(1) For solid waste services provided by Recology CleanScapes and electricity and gas services provided by Puget Sound Energy, eligible low income Burien households may apply annually to have their residential solid waste bill(s) adjusted by Recology CleanScapes and their residential electric and gas bill(s) adjusted by Puget Sound Energy so they do not have to pay the utility tax passed on to customers by Recology CleanScapes and Puget Sound Energy for those services. The City of Burien will provide Recology CleanScapes and Puget Sound Energy with a list, at least annually, of eligible Burien households who should have their solid waste and electric and gas bills adjusted to remove the utility tax. Adjustments are not retroactive.

(2) To qualify for utility tax relief from solid waste services provided by Recology CleanScapes and electric and gas services provided by Puget Sound Energy, a household must:

(a) Be a household residing in Burien.

(b) Have a current residential account with Recology CleanScapes for solid waste services and/or current residential account with Puget Sound Energy for electric and/or gas services.

(c) Have an income during the calendar year, or part thereof, from all sources whatsoever, not exceeding 50 percent of the median income level for such calendar year for the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA) per household as published by the federal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. If the annual update of the PMSA is not available, the median income level shall be determined by adjusting the prior year median income level by cost of living changes. As used in this subsection income means “disposable income,” as that term is defined in RCW 84.36.383, as it may be amended or replaced from time to time. [Ord. 603 § 1, 2014; Ord. 350 § 2, 2002]

3.12.200 Utility tax deduction for Recology CleanScapes and Puget Sound Energy for this program.

Recology CleanScapes and Puget Sound Energy may deduct the revenue received from the eligible Burien households enrolled in the utility tax relief program described in BMC 3.12.190 from the total gross receipts reported to the city when computing taxable receipts. [Ord. 603 § 2, 2014; Ord. 350 § 3, 2002]

3.12.210 Utility tax relief for telephone (not including cellular telephone) and cable television services.

For telephone (not including cellular telephone) and cable television services, eligible low income Burien households may apply annually to receive a “reimbursement” from the city for utility taxes paid for telephone (not including cellular) and cable television services as described below:

(1) For all billings paid by the household during a calendar year for service charges to any entity or organization which paid the utility tax of the city on telephone (not including cellular telephone) and cable television services, the city is authorized to pay to such household a “reimbursement” up to a maximum amount determined in accordance with subsection (2) of this section; provided, that the total amount of all reimbursements paid pursuant to this subsection shall not exceed the total dollar amount established through the budget process.

(2) Utility tax relief is available for telephone (not including cellular telephone) and cable television services as follows:

(a) Telephone (not including cellular telephone): a maximum rate will be determined annually based on the utility tax paid on a single residential telephone line.

(b) Cable television: a maximum rate will be determined annually based on the utility tax paid for basic cable service only.

The amount of relief shall be prorated on a monthly basis for each month that the household was residing in city, and for which the household qualified for the relief as set forth in subsection (3) of this section, and was paying the tax.

(3) To qualify for utility tax relief from telephone (not including cellular telephone) and cable television services, a household must:

(a) Have been a household residing within the city at all times during any period for which a reimbursement is requested, and have paid the city utility tax charges from the income or resources of the household;

(b) Have an income during the calendar year, or part thereof, for which a “reimbursement” is requested from all sources whatsoever, not exceeding 50 percent of the median income level for such calendar year for the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area (PMSA) per household as published by the federal Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. If the annual update of the PMSA is not available, the median income level shall be determined by adjusting the prior year median income level by cost of living changes. As used in this subsection, income means “disposable income” as that term is defined in RCW 84.36.383, as it may be amended or replaced from time to time. [Ord. 350 § 4, 2002]

3.12.220 Utility tax relief filing procedures.

(1) To qualify for the billing adjustment provided by Recology CleanScapes or Puget Sound Energy as set forth in BMC 3.12.190, a household must apply annually on the application form approved by the city. Requests for Recology CleanScapes solid waste and Puget Sound Energy electricity and gas billing adjustments may be made at any time, however, are only valid through December 31st of each year and must be renewed annually. Adjustments are not retroactive. If a household changes Burien residences, they must reapply for the billing adjustment by Recology CleanScapes and Puget Sound Energy. The utility tax will be reinstated at the old address.

(2) To qualify for a “reimbursement” for some of utility taxes paid for telephone (not including cellular) and cable television as set forth in BMC 3.12.210, a household must apply annually on the application form approved by the city. Such application must be received no later than the date established by the city manager for the calendar year for which a “reimbursement” is requested. Households must reapply annually for the utility tax relief program.

(3) The city manager shall adopt rules and procedures for the filing of reimbursement claims, and for the administration of the utility tax relief program. [Ord. 603 § 3, 2014; Ord. 350 § 5, 2002]