Chapter 5.04


5.04.010    Purposes.

5.04.020    Definitions.

5.04.025    License required.

5.04.030    Liability for damages.

5.04.040    Person subject to tax.

5.04.050    Business located outside city limits.

5.04.060    Exemptions.

5.04.070    Applicability of other ordinances.

5.04.080    Basic license fee.

5.04.090    Term.

5.04.100    Failure to pay – Penalty.

5.04.110    License constitutes debt to city.

5.04.120    Review of nonprofit exempt organization business.

5.04.130    Temporary business license.

5.04.140    Right to refuse to issue license.

5.04.150    Issuing official.

5.04.160    Violation – Penalty.

5.04.010 Purposes.

By enacting this chapter, the city is exercising its power to license for regulation and for revenue. (Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015)

5.04.020 Definitions.

In construing the provisions of this chapter, the following definitions apply:

A. “Business” means all activities, occupations, trades, pursuits or professions located and/or engaged in within the city, with the object of gain, benefit or advantage to the taxpayer, or to another person or class of persons, directly or indirectly. Each business location is a separate business.

B. “Business Licensing Service” or “BLS” both mean the service within the Washington State Department of Revenue that administers the East Wenatchee general business licensing requirements on behalf of the city.

C. “City” means the city of East Wenatchee, its officers, its employees, and its agents.

D. Engaging in Business.

1. The term “engaging in business” means commencing, conducting, or continuing in business, and also the exercise of corporate or franchise powers, as well as liquidating a business when the liquidators thereof hold themselves out to the public as conducting such business.

2. This section sets forth examples of activities that constitute engaging in business in the city, and establishes safe harbors for certain of those activities so that a person who meets the criteria may engage in de minimis business activities in the city without having to pay a business license fee. The activities listed in this section are illustrative only and are not intended to narrow the definition of “engaging in business” in subsection (D)(1) of this section. If an activity is not listed, whether it constitutes engaging in business in the city shall be determined by considering all the facts and circumstances and applicable law.

3. Without being all-inclusive, any one of the following activities conducted within the city by a person, or its employee, agent, representative, independent contractor, broker or another acting on its behalf, constitutes engaging in business and requires a person to register and obtain a business license:

a. Owning, renting, leasing, maintaining, or having the right to use, or using, tangible personal property, intangible personal property, or real property permanently or temporarily located in the city.

b. Owning, renting, leasing, using, or maintaining an office, place of business, or other establishment in the city.

c. Soliciting sales.

d. Making repairs or providing maintenance or service to real or tangible personal property, including warranty work and property maintenance.

e. Providing technical assistance or service, including quality control, product inspections, warranty work, or similar services on or in connection with tangible personal property sold by the person or on its behalf.

f. Installing, constructing, or supervising installation or construction of real or tangible personal property.

g. Soliciting, negotiating, or approving franchise, license, or other similar agreements.

h. Collecting current or delinquent accounts.

i. Picking up and transporting tangible personal property, solid waste, construction debris, or excavated materials.

j. Providing disinfecting and pest control services, employment and labor pool services, home nursing care, janitorial services, appraising, landscape architectural services, security system services, surveying, and real estate services including the listing of homes and managing real property.

k. Rendering professional services such as those provided by accountants, architects, attorneys, auctioneers, consultants, engineers, professional athletes, barbers, baseball clubs and other sports organizations, chemists, consultants, psychologists, court reporters, dentists, doctors, detectives, laboratory operators, teachers, and veterinarians.

l. Meeting with customers or potential customers, even when no sales or orders are solicited at the meetings.

m. Training or recruiting agents, representatives, independent contractors, brokers or others, domiciled or operating on a job in the city, acting on its behalf, or for customers or potential customers.

n. Investigating, resolving, or otherwise assisting in resolving customer complaints.

o. In-store stocking or manipulating products or goods, sold to and owned by a customer, regardless of where sale and delivery of the goods took place.

p. Delivering goods in vehicles owned, rented, leased, used, or maintained by the person or another acting on its behalf.

4. If a person, or its employee, agent, representative, independent contractor, broker or another acting on the person’s behalf, engages in no other activities in or with the city but the following, it need not register and obtain a business license:

a. Meeting with suppliers of goods and services as a customer.

b. Meeting with government representatives in their official capacity, other than those performing contracting or purchasing functions.

c. Attending meetings, such as board meetings, retreats, seminars, and conferences, or other meetings wherein the person does not provide training in connection with tangible personal property sold by the person or on its behalf. This provision does not apply to any board of director member or attendee engaging in business such as a member of a board of directors who attends a board meeting.

d. Renting tangible or intangible property as a customer when the property is not used in the city.

e. Attending, but not participating in, a “trade show” or “multiple vendor events.” Persons participating at a trade show shall review the city’s trade show or multiple vendor event ordinances.

f. Conducting advertising through the mail.

g. Soliciting sales by phone from a location outside the city.

5. A seller located outside the city merely delivering goods into the city by means of common carrier is not required to register and obtain a business license; provided, that it engages in no other business activities in the city. Such activities do not include those in subsection (D)(4) of this section.

6. The city expressly intends that engaging in business include any activity sufficient to establish nexus for purposes of applying the license fee under the law and the Constitutions of the United States and the state of Washington. Nexus is presumed to continue as long as the taxpayer benefits from the activity that constituted the original nexus generating contact or subsequent contacts.

E. “Person” means any individual, firm, partnership, company, corporation, association, receiver, assignee, trustee in bankruptcy, trust, estate, joint venture, club, joint stock company, business trust, society or any group of individuals acting as a unit.

F. “Taxpayer” means any person who engages in business or who is required to have a business license hereunder, or who performs any act, for which a license fee or tax is imposed by this chapter. (Ord. 18-09 § 5, 2018; Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 2, 1980)

5.04.025 License required.

A. No person may engage in business within the city without first obtaining a business license from the city to do so. Application for the business license is made through the Business Licensing Service. The application must be accompanied by all fees due for the licenses requested on the application including the handling fee authorized by RCW 19.02.075.

B. If a person operates a business at multiple locations within the city, each business location must be licensed separately.

C. A change of business location within the city requires review and approval by the city of the new location, and may require reapplication for the appropriate licenses to operate at the new location.

D. A city business license is not transferable. A change in ownership of a business requires the new owner to make application for a separate license. (Ord. 17-13 § 6, 2017)

5.04.030 Liability for damages.

The city recognizes that it cannot solve all problems relating to businesses licensed under this chapter through legislation. Thus, this chapter is an effort to make the best possible use of available resources. This chapter is not an attempt to provide complete protection to all of the city’s inhabitants.

A. This chapter expressly provides for and promotes the health, safety and welfare of the general public. It does not create or designate any particular class of persons who will or should be especially protected by its terms.

B. This chapter specifically intends to place the obligation of complying with its terms on the licensee. No provision of this chapter imposes a duty upon the city, for whom the implementation or enforcement of this chapter is discretionary and not mandatory.

C. Nothing in this chapter creates the basis for any liability on the part of the city for any injury or damage resulting from the failure of a licensee to comply with the provisions of this chapter, or by reason or in consequence of any act or omission in connection with the implementation or enforcement of this chapter on the part of the city.

D. By issuing a business license to a licensee, the city does not create a duty of the city to indemnify a business licensee for a wrongful act against the public, to guarantee the quality of goods, services, or expertise of a licensee, or to otherwise shift responsibility from the licensee to the city for proper training or for proper conduct of a licensee. (Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015)

5.04.040 Person subject to tax.

The city levies upon and will collect from each person engaging in business in the city an annual license fee for the privilege of engaging in business activities within the city limits. (Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 3, 1980. Formerly 5.04.030)

5.04.050 Business located outside city limits.

Unless otherwise exempt, all requirements of this chapter cover and apply to any business located outside the city that engages in some business activity inside the city limits, except that only employees working within the city limits are to be counted. (Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 4, 1980. Formerly 5.04.040)

5.04.060 Exemptions.

The license and license fee provisions of this chapter do not apply to the following persons, sales, or services, unless otherwise indicated:

A. A governmental entity including public and private elementary, secondary, high schools, and universities;

B. A person who delivers newspapers or periodicals;

C. A person soliciting orders from retail establishments for the delivery and sale of goods, wares and merchandise to retailers for resale unless located within the city;

D. A person or organization conducting a nonprofit enterprise when the enterprise is operated without private profit, for a public, charitable, educational, literary, fraternal or religious purpose, is exempt only from the city license fee required by this chapter, but must comply with the business licensing requirement as outlined in EWMC 5.04.120;

E. A person under the age of 18 engaged in babysitting;

F. A person selling his or her own produce;

G. A person that the city is forbidden to tax by law;

H. A person engaged in the casual sale of items of personal property where the person conducting such sale is not regularly engaged in the business of selling items of personal property (for example, garage sales and bake sales);

I. A landlord; and

J. A person or business whose annual value of products, gross proceeds of sales, or gross income of the business in the city is equal to or less than $2,000 and who does not maintain a place of business within the city. However, a person or business who qualifies for this exemption must still submit a business license registration to the director or designee. The fee for this submission is $0.00. The threshold does not apply to regulatory license requirements or activities that require a specialized permit. (Ord. 18-09 § 6, 2018; Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 5, 1980. Formerly 5.04.050)

5.04.070 Applicability of other ordinances.

A person exempted from obtaining a business license must comply with any other ordinances of the city relating to taxes, fees or licenses, particularly, although not so limited thereto, gambling or any other tax or license fee required to be purchased or paid for carrying on that particular activity. (Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 6, 1980. Formerly 5.04.060)

5.04.080 Basic license fee.

A. Unless it is otherwise provided by provision in a section providing for the licensing of a special, named, enumerated or specific business or activity, the annual basic license fee is assessed according to the number of persons employed, whether full time or part time and including business owners, at the time a business applies for or renews a license. This license fee is a basic fee for doing and conducting business within the city limits. Any other section of this chapter or any ordinance of the city requiring a license or tax for conducting a specific and named activity is in addition to this basic license fee. There is no set-off or credit given for this basic license fee unless such ordinance or section of ordinance so allows. The basic license fee rates are as follows:

Number of Persons Employed


0 – 2


3 – 5


6 – 12


13 – 25


26 – 50


51 and over


B. Beginning January 1, 2018, on January 1st of each year, the city will increase the basic license fee by 100 percent of the U.S. Consumer Price Index of Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) July to July statistics for the West Urban Region for the preceding 12 months, rounded up to the nearest whole dollar.

C. An applicant must pay the fee for a business license in full at the time the application is submitted, and annually thereafter on or before its expiration date. (Ord. 18-15 § 1, 2018; Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-17 § 4, 2015; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 7, 1980. Formerly 5.04.070)

5.04.090 Term.

A business license issued pursuant to the provisions of this chapter expires on the date determined by the Business Licensing Service (“BLS”), and must be renewed by that expiration date in order to continue in business within the city. Renewal of a license is accomplished through BLS and must include all fees due for the licenses held as well as the handling fee authorized by RCW 19.02.075. The city license term and expiration date will be coordinated with the expiration date established for a business by BLS and the license term and fees may be prorated to synchronize with the BLS expiration. License renewals are administered by BLS in cooperation with the city. If a business indicates a change in ownership, or character of business, a new application must be submitted and all respective fees paid. A change of physical location within the city must be reviewed and approved by the city and may also require submitting a new application and payment of all fees due for licensure at the new location. (Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015)

5.04.100 Failure to pay – Penalty.

A. Failure to complete a renewal on or before the expiration date incurs a late renewal penalty authorized by RCW 19.02.085. Failure to renew the license within 120 days after the license expiration date will result in the cancellation of the license and require reapplication and payment of all fees due in order to continue business within the city.

B. The city may also impose the penalties set forth in EWMC 5.04.160. (Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-13 § 4, 2015; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 8, 1980. Formerly 5.04.080)

5.04.110 License constitutes debt to city.

A license fee due or unpaid under this chapter, and all city-assessed penalties thereon, constitutes a debt to the city, and may be collected by court proceeding in the same manner as any other debt in like amount. This remedy is in addition to all other existing remedies. (Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015)

5.04.120 Review of nonprofit exempt organization business.

A person claiming an exemption from the basic license fee must apply for a nonprofit city business license to carry on a business activity within the city limits. This requirement is specifically made to include all charitable and fundraising organizations and activities. An exempt organization is also exempt from any fee for carrying on such activity, except as specified in other ordinances or sections of ordinances of the city or as required by the state or any of its political subdivisions.

A. Prior to commencing a business activity, including fundraising activities, such organization or person must apply for a business license as provided for in this chapter. Such a nonprofit organization must provide a copy of the 501(c) certification letter issued to the business by the federal Internal Revenue Service.

B. If the city clerk deems it in the best interest and welfare of the city to have such license applications reviewed by the city council, he or she will not issue such license without referring it to the city council for review. Such matter will be brought on at the next regularly scheduled city council meeting for review and either accepted or denied by the city council. Such review by the city council is binding upon all parties, subject to the right of appeal to the superior court of Douglas County for the state, having jurisdiction over these matters. (Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 9, 1980. Formerly 5.04.090)

5.04.130 Temporary business license.

A. In lieu of applying for a general city business license, a person selling or soliciting orders for any commodity or merchandise from house to house or from address to address may apply to the city for a temporary business license. The fee for a one-day license is $5.00 and the fee for a 30-day license is $25.00.

B. In lieu of applying for a general city business license, a person selling any commodity or merchandise from a vehicle, trailer, stand or temporary structure or place may apply to the city for a temporary business license to conduct such activity. The fee for a one-day license is $5.00 and the fee for a 30-day license is $25.00.

C. The city will not issue a temporary business license to any person desiring to sell any commodity or merchandise from a permanent position or location unless the police chief and the community development director approve, in writing, the position or location. (Ord. 18-07 § 5, 2018; Ord. 17-13 § 5, 2017; Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; 305 § 13, 1980. Formerly 5.04.120)

5.04.140 Right to refuse to issue license.

A. The city clerk may refuse to issue a business license to a person if he or she deems it best for the welfare of the citizens and inhabitants of the city. If the city clerk refuses to issue a license to a person, that person may not engage in any business within city limits.

B. If the city clerk refuses to issue a license, the aggrieved person may appeal the decision of the city clerk to the city council. The aggrieved person must file the appeal, in writing, with the city clerk within 10 days of receiving notice of the decision not to issue a license. The city council must review the appeal within 30 days of filing.

C. Upon a hearing of the facts, the city council has the right to either uphold the refusal or accept the application for license upon payment of the basic license fee and any other tax or license imposed upon such business. The council must make its decision within 30 days of the date of their review at a city council meeting.

D. The parties are bound by the decision of the council, subject to the right of appeal to the superior court of the state of Washington, Douglas County. (Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 14, 1980. Formerly 5.04.130)

5.04.150 Issuing official.

The city council charges the city clerk with the duty of issuing a business license herein required. (Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 15, 1980. Formerly 5.04.140)

5.04.160 Violation – Penalty.

A person who violates a provision of this chapter is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable as set forth in EWMC 1.20.010. (Ord. 15-04 § 5 (Exh. A), 2015; Ord. 99-12 § 1, 1999; Ord. 305 § 16, 1980. Formerly 5.04.150)