Chapter 3.12
ADMISSIONS TAX

Sections:

3.12.010    Definitions.

3.12.020    Tax levied – Exceptions – Free or reduced rates – Season tickets.

3.12.030    Cabarets – Cover charges – “Food tickets” – Computation of tax.

3.12.040    Swimming pools – Skating rinks.

3.12.050    Resorts – Picnic grounds – Exclusive use by organizations – Parking.

3.12.060    Price and vendor’s name to be on ticket.

3.12.070    Vendor to collect tax – Liability – Procedure for payment to Treasurer – Circuses and other transitory entertainment – Audit of records.

3.12.080    Certificate of registration.

3.12.090    Joint liability of owner of premises and operator of transitory amusement.

3.12.100    Treasurer, Inspector, may adopt further rules.

3.12.110    Offset for city, town taxes.

3.12.120    Penalties.

3.12.130    Waivers.

3.12.900    Severability.

3.12.910    Effective date.

Cross-references:
Chapter 36.38 RCW: Admissions tax.

3.12.010 Definitions.

For the purpose of this chapter, words and phrases shall have the following meaning:

“Admission charge,” in addition to its usual and ordinary meaning, shall include a charge made for season tickets or subscriptions, a cover charge or a charge made for use of seats or tables, reserved or otherwise, and similar accommodations; a charge made for food and refreshments in any place where any free entertainment, recreation or amusement is provided; a charge made for rental or use of equipment or facilities for the purpose of recreation or amusement, and where the rental of the equipment or facilities is necessary to the enjoyment or the privilege for which a general admission is charged, the combined charge shall be considered as the admission charge; and a charge made for automobile parking where the amount of the charge is determined according to the number of passengers in an automobile.

“Inspector” shall mean the Auditor of Cowlitz County, Washington.

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

“Place” includes, but is not restricted to, theaters, dance halls, amphitheaters, auditoriums, stadiums, athletic pavilions and fields, baseball and athletic parks, circuses, side shows, swimming pools, outdoor amusement parks, and such other attractions as merry-go-rounds, ferris wheels, dodge’ems, roller coasters, and observation towers.

“Treasurer” shall mean the County Treasurer. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 1, 18 J 254.]

3.12.020 Tax levied – Exceptions – Free or reduced rates – Season tickets.

A. There is hereby levied and imposed upon every person (including children without regard of age) who pays an admission charge to any place, including a tax on persons who are admitted free of charge or at reduced rates to any place for which other persons pay a charge or a regular higher charge for the same or similar privileges or accommodations, which said tax shall be in the amount of $0.01 for every $0.20 or fraction thereof paid for the admission charge.

B. Whenever the admission charge is $0.10 or less, no tax shall be payable, nor shall any tax be payable for admissions charged at any agricultural fair, nor shall any tax be payable by any bona fide employee of the place or by any federal, state or municipal officer or employee on official visits, or by any child under 12 years of age who is admitted free.

C. Whenever any person is admitted free or at a reduced rate to any place at any time when and under circumstances where an admission charge is made to other persons for the same or similar accommodations, a tax shall be payable by the person so admitted in an amount equal to the tax payable by such other persons for the same or similar accommodations.

D. Whenever the charge to women and children for admission to any place is less than the charge made to men or when such persons are regularly admitted free, the lesser charge is not deemed to be a reduced rate under this chapter, and the amount of the tax payable hereunder by such persons shall be determined by the amount of the actual admission charge paid.

E. Amounts paid for admission by season tickets or subscription shall be exempt only if the amount which would be charged to the holder or subscriber for a single admission is $0.10 or less.

F. Whenever tickets or cards of admission are sold elsewhere than at the ticket or box office of the place, any price or charge made in excess of the established price or charge therefor at such ticket or box office shall be taxable in a sum equal to 10 percent of the amount of such excess, which tax shall be in addition to the tax on the ticket or box office admission charge, shall be collected and remitted in the manner provided in CCC 3.12.070 by the person selling such tickets.

G. Any person having the permanent use of boxes or seats or a lease for use of any box or seat in any place for which an admission charge is made, in lieu of the tax imposed herein, shall pay a tax equivalent to 10 percent of the amount for which a similar box or seat is sold for each performance or exhibition at which the box or seat is used or reserved by or for the lessee or holder, the same to be collected and remitted in the same manner provided in CCC 3.12.070 by the owner or operator of the place. [Ord. 5231, 5-12-77; Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 2, 18 J 254.]

3.12.030 Cabarets – Cover charges – “Food tickets” – Computation of tax.

Any person who pays an admission charge to any public performance for profit at any cabaret or other similar entertainment to which the charge of admission is wholly or in part included in the price paid for refreshments, service or merchandise shall pay a tax of $0.015 for each $0.10 or fraction thereof of the amount paid for admission, and the amount paid for such admission shall be deemed to be 20 percent of the amount paid for refreshment, service or merchandise. If the amount paid for admission is $0.20 or less, no tax shall be imposed; and if a fixed admission charge, including a “cover charge,” is imposed upon each person admitted, and it is fair and reasonable in comparison with charges generally made for similar performances or entertainment, such charge is taxable at the rate of $0.01 for each $0.20 or fraction thereof; provided, that if no fixed admission charge or cover charge is imposed, but the prices charged for refreshments, service or merchandise are higher during the time the entertainment or dancing is provided than at other times, or if the prices charged are substantially higher than are charged by other places furnishing the same class of food or services but which do not furnish entertainment or dancing, an admission charge shall be deemed included in the price paid for refreshments, service or merchandise, and 20 percent of the total amount so paid shall be subject to the tax at the rate of $0.015 for each $0.10 or fraction thereof. If the price paid for refreshments, service or merchandise does not exceed $2.50, no admission charge is deemed included in the price paid; if, however, the price paid for the refreshments, service or merchandise exceeds $2.50, the tax hereby levied shall be computed upon the total amount hereof, even though expended on behalf of more than one person, and the amount thereof shall not be prorated among the persons of the party. If the minimum charge is imposed or a so-called “food ticket” is required to be purchased by the person admitted and such minimum charge or “food ticket” is later accepted by the management in full or in part payment of food or other refreshments served, the amount paid for such minimum “food tickets” shall not be deemed an amount paid for admission; and in such case the tax levied shall be equal to $0.015 for each $0.10 or fraction of the amount paid for admission, which shall be deemed to be 20 percent of the amount paid for refreshments, service or merchandise. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 3, 18 J 254.]

3.12.040 Swimming pools – Skating rinks.

Whenever an amount of more than $0.10 is required to be paid to gain admission to any building or enclosure in which a swimming pool or skating rink is located or to the pool or rink itself, the amount paid, plus the amount, if any, paid for rental or use of equipment or facilities supplied to the person paying for the admission and necessary to the enjoyment of the privilege for which the admission is charged, shall be deemed the admission charge, and a tax is hereby levied on such admission charge of $0.01 for each $0.20 or fraction thereof, which shall be paid by the person paying the admission charge and which shall be collected and remitted by the person to whom the same is paid in the manner provided in CCC 3.12.070. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 4, 18 J 254.]

3.12.050 Resorts – Picnic grounds – Exclusive use by organizations – Parking.

Whenever an amount of more than $0.10 is required to be paid to gain admission to any resort or picnic grounds, the whole amount so paid is subject to a tax of $0.01 for each $0.20 or fraction thereof, even though such an amount includes a charge for use of equipment and facilities such as tables, stoves and bath houses. If a lesser amount is charged to persons who do not use such equipment or facilities than those who do use such equipment and facilities, the lesser charge is deemed the admission charge. When a separate charge is made for the use of equipment and facilities, such charge is not subject to the tax herein levied unless it constitutes or is part of an “admission charge” or is a “place” as defined in CCC 3.12.010. Whenever an organization or club acquires the sole right to use a resort or picnic grounds, solely for the enjoyment of its members or employees and their friends, the amount for such right is an amount paid for an admission charge and subject to the tax herein levied; provided, that if the organization or club in turn charges its members or employees all or part of the amount so paid, and such charge does not constitute an admission charge subject to the tax levied herein. Amounts paid for the privilege of parking cars in a resort or picnic grounds do not constitute an admission charge unless the amount of such charge is determined by the number of passengers in the automobile or the same charge is made to all persons who enter the resort or grounds, whether on foot or by other means of transportation. If a charge is made for each passenger in an automobile, in addition to a charge for parking facilities, the amount paid for the passengers is an admission charge and subject to the tax herein levied. The tax herein levied shall be paid by the person paying the admission charge and shall be collected and remitted by the person to whom the same is paid in the manner provided in CCC 3.12.070. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 5, 18 J 254.]

3.12.060 Price and vendor’s name to be on ticket.

The price (exclusive of the tax to be paid by the persons paying for admission) at which every admission ticket or card is sold shall be conspicuously and indelibly printed or written on the face or back of that part of the ticket which is to be taken up by the management of the place to which admission is gained; and it shall be unlawful for any person to sell an admission ticket or card on which the name of the vendor or the price is not so printed, stamped, or written, or to sell an admission ticket or card at any price in excess of the price printed, stamped, or written thereon. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 6, 18 J 254.]

3.12.070 Vendor to collect tax – Liability – Procedure for payment to Treasurer – Circuses and other transitory entertainment – Audit of records.

Every person receiving any payment for admissions on which a tax is levied under this chapter shall collect the amount of the tax imposed from the person making the admission payment. 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 paid to the Treasurer as herein provided. Any person required to collect the tax imposed under this chapter who fails to collect the same, or, having collected the same, fails to remit the same to the Treasurer in the manner prescribed by this chapter, whether such failure be the result of his own act of the result of acts or conditions beyond his control, shall nevertheless be personally liable to the County of Cowlitz, State of Washington, for the amount of such tax, and shall, unless the remittance be made as herein provided and required, be guilty of a violation of this chapter.

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 Treasurer in bimonthly installments and remittances therefor on or before the fifteenth day of the month next succeeding the end of the bimonthly period in which the tax is collected or received; provided, that the first return and remittance under this chapter shall be made on or before September 15, 1943, and shall cover the period from and including August 13, 1943, to and including August 31, 1943. Payment or remittance of the tax collected may be made by check, unless payment or remittance is otherwise required by the Treasurer, but payment by check shall not relieve the person collecting the tax from liability for payment and remittance of the tax to the Treasurer unless the check is honored and is in the full and correct amount. The person receiving any payment for admissions shall make out a return upon such forms and setting forth such information as the Treasurer and the Inspector may require, showing the amount of the tax upon admissions for which he is liable for the preceding bimonthly period, and shall sign and transmit the same to the Treasurer with a remittance for said amount; provided, that the Treasurer or Inspector may in their discretion require verified annual returns from any persons receiving admission payments setting forth such additional information as he may deem necessary to determine correctly the amount of tax collected and payable.

Whenever any theater, circus, show, exhibition, entertainment or amusement makes an admission which is subject to the tax herein levied, and the same is of a temporary or transitory nature, of which the Board of County Commissioners may request that the Treasurer require the report and the remittance of the admission tax immediately upon the collection of the 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 the Board of County Commissioners shall determine and the failure to comply with any requirement of the said Board of County Commissioners, the Treasurer, or the Inspector, as to the report and remittance of the tax as required shall be a violation of this chapter.

The books, records and accounts of any person collecting a tax herein levied shall, as to admission charges and collections, be at all reasonable times subject to examination and audit by the Board of County Commissioners or the Treasurer. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 7, 18 J 254.]

3.12.080 Certificate of registration.

Any person conducting or operating any place for entrance to which an admission charge is made shall, on a form prescribed by the Board of County Commissioners, make application to and procure from the Inspector a certificate of registration, the fee for which shall be $1.00, which certificate shall continue valid until the thirty-first day of December of the year in which the same is issued. Such certificate of registration, or duplicate of the original copies thereof to be issued by the Inspector after approval by the Board of County Commissioners, without additional charge to the person collecting the tax, and the certificate of registration shall be posted in a conspicuous place in each ticket or box office where tickets of admission are sold. The Inspector shall transmit upon approval a copy of each certificate of registration to the Treasurer. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 8, 18 J 254.]

3.12.090 Joint liability of owner of premises and operator of transitory amusement.

Whenever a certificate of registration is obtained for the purpose of operating or conducting a temporary or transitory amusement, entertainment, or exhibition by persons who are not the owners, lessees or custodians 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 CCC 3.12.070 by said owner, unless paid by the persons conducting the place. The application for a certificate of registration for such purpose shall furnish with the application therefor the name and the 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 Inspector of such issuance of such certificate of registration and the joint liability for collection and remittance of such tax. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 9, 18 J 254.]

3.12.100 Treasurer, Inspector, may adopt further rules.

The Treasurer and/or the Inspector 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 herein levied; and a copy of said rules and regulations shall be on file in the offices of the Board of County Commissioners and the Treasurer and shall be available for public examination. Failure or refusal to comply with any such rules and regulations shall be deemed a violation of this chapter. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 10, 18 J 254.]

3.12.110 Offset for city, town taxes.

An offset shall be allowed against any of the taxes imposed by this chapter for the amount of like taxes levied, fixed and collected by incorporated cities and towns within Cowlitz County, Washington. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 12, 18 J 254.]

3.12.120 Penalties.

Each violation of or failure to comply with the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a separate offense and shall subject the offender to a fine of not to exceed $100.00 or to imprisonment in the County Jail for not to exceed 30 days, or to both such fine and imprisonment. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 14, 18 J 254.]

3.12.130 Waivers.

A. The admission tax imposed by this chapter may be waived by the Treasurer under the circumstances set forth in this section. Any person desiring the waiver of the admission tax shall, prior to each event for which a waiver is sought, make a written request therefor to the Treasurer. If the Treasurer finds that the event for which the waiver is sought is to be conducted for the benefit of a charitable organization, the Treasurer shall waive the tax for that event. The person requesting the waiver shall provide whatever information the Treasurer may request to aid in making such finding.

B. If the admission tax with respect to a particular event is waived, but it is later determined that such event will not be conducted, or was not conducted, for the benefit of a charitable organization, the waiver shall be deemed revoked and the tax shall become payable as if the waiver had never been granted, and in addition there shall be imposed a penalty in the amount of 100 percent of the tax, which shall be payable by the same person(s) liable for the tax. The Treasurer shall send such person(s) written notice of the amount of the tax and penalty, and payment shall be due 30 days thereafter.

C. The term “charitable organization” means any benevolent, philanthropic, patriotic, eleemosynary, education, social, recreation or fraternal organization, or any other person having or purporting to have a charitable nature. “Charitable” shall have its common law meaning. [Ord. 84-149, § 1, 6-18-84.]

3.12.900 Severability.

If any portion of this chapter shall be adjudged invalid, such invalidity shall not affect the portions which are not adjudged invalid. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 13, 18 J 254.]

3.12.910 Effective date.

The tax hereby levied and imposed shall be collected and paid on and after August 13, 1943. The provisions of this chapter become effective as of August 13, 1943, unless otherwise stipulated in the several sections of this chapter. [Ord. dated 7-13-43, § 11 and clause following § 14, 18 J 254.]