Chapter 5.05
BUSINESS LICENSES AND REGULATIONS1

Sections:

5.05.010    Definitions.

5.05.015    Engaging in business – Defined.

5.05.020    Business license required.

5.05.030    Separate business license required.

5.05.040    Change in nature or location of a business.

5.05.050    Exemptions.

5.05.060    Nonprofit organizations.

5.05.070    Application for license.

5.05.080    Business license fees.

5.05.090    Repealed.

5.05.100    Term and renewal of license.

5.05.110    Penalty for late application.

5.05.120    Duties of the City Manager or designee.

5.05.130    Inspections, investigations, and right of entry.

5.05.140    Basis for license denial, suspension or revocation.

5.05.150    Procedures for a denial, suspension or revocation of a business license.

5.05.160    Procedures for an appeal of a notice of denial, suspension or revocation.

5.05.170    Continuation of license upon death of licensee.

5.05.180    Assignment of licenses.

5.05.190    Engaging in business without a license or payment of fee.

5.05.200    Violations, penalties and enforcement.

5.05.210    Repealed.

5.05.220    Repealed.

5.05.010 Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter, the following definitions shall apply:

A. “Business license” means a license issued by the City authorizing a person to engage in business within the City. “Business license” may also mean the licensing document produced by the Business Licensing Service upon which the City-issued business license appears as an endorsement.

B. “City” shall mean the City of SeaTac, Washington.

C. “City Manager” shall mean the SeaTac City Manager or designee.

D. “Person” means any individual, corporation, company, firm, joint stock company, co-partnership, joint venture, trust, business trust, club, association, society, or any group of individuals acting as a unit, whether mutual, cooperative, fraternal, nonprofit, or otherwise, receiver, administrator, executor, assignee, or trustee in bankruptcy.

E. “Business Licensing Service” or “BLS” means the office within the Washington State Department of Revenue providing business licensing services to the City. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.015 Engaging in business – Defined.

A. 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.

B. 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 (A) of this section. If an activity is not listed, whether it constitutes engaging in business in the City shall be determined by the City Manager or designee, considering all the facts and circumstances and applicable law.

C. 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.

1. 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.

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

3. Soliciting sales.

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

5. 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.

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

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

8. Collecting current or delinquent accounts.

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

10. 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.

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

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

13. 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

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

15. 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.

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

D. 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:

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

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

3. 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 directors member or attendee engaging in business such as a member of a board of directors who attends a board meeting.

4. Renting tangible or intangible property as a customer when the property is not used in the City.

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

6. Conducting advertising through the mail.

7. Soliciting sales by phone from a location outside the City.

E. 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) of this section. 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. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part))

5.05.020 Business license required.

A. No person shall engage in business within the City without first being issued a business license.

B. A business license is not transferable except as provided in SMC 5.05.170. A person acquiring an existing business in the City must obtain a new business license.

C. The business license must be displayed in a conspicuous place on the premises identified on the license.

D. This section applies regardless whether a fee is owed for obtaining a business license as provided in this chapter. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.030 Separate business license required.

A. A separate business license shall be obtained for each separate location, within the City, at which the business is conducted, even when operated by the same business owner.

B. A separate business license shall be obtained for each different and discrete business activity conducted by any person, whether at the same location, within the City, or as another licensed business location within the City.

C. If two (2) or more separate business owners operate their own discrete businesses at the same physical location, each must obtain a separate business license for their own business. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.040 Change in nature or location of a business.

A business license authorizes a particular type of business at the designated location. A change in the nature of the business or business location may necessitate a new application for a business license, as provided for in this chapter. A change in the nature of the business or a change of location must be reported to the Business Licensing Service sufficiently before commencing the new business activity or change to a new location to allow the City to review the change for compliance with zoning and business regulatory ordinances, and approve the new activity or location prior to commencing the change. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.050 Exemptions.

Notwithstanding the requirements of SMC 5.05.020 or 5.05.080(A), the following shall be exempted from the requirement to apply for and obtain a business license:

A. Minors engaged in babysitting, delivery of newspapers, mowing lawns, washing cars, and similar activities.

B. Service oriented clubs and organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Soroptimist, Lions, Jaycees, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Campfire, or school sponsored clubs, such as DECA, FBLA, FFA and Key Club, involved in special charitable fundraising events; provided, that in order for this exemption to apply, the club must be organized in and regularly meet within the corporate limits of the City, or within the corporate limits of a city immediately adjacent thereto. If requests are received for this exemption for clubs or organizations not specifically listed above, the City Manager or designee shall have the discretion to determine whether or not the exemption applies. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.060 Nonprofit organizations.

A. Nonprofit organizations granted a tax exemption by the Federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under 26 USC § 501(c)(3) are exempted from the requirement to pay City business license fees associated with the issuance of a business license as required by this chapter. To qualify for the City business license fee exemption, applicants, other than religious organizations automatically recognized by the IRS as tax exempt, must provide one (1) of the following proofs of the tax exemption:

1. IRS determination letter; or

2. IRS affirmation letter.

However, nonprofit organizations are still required to apply for and obtain a valid business license and comply with all other provisions of this chapter.

B. Failure to register a nonprofit organization with the City will result in a penalty as established by the City’s schedule of license fees, permit fees, other fees and charges for City services. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.070 Application for license.

No business license shall be issued except upon application therefor made through the Business Licensing Service. Upon approval of the application, the business license shall be issued by the City through the Business Licensing Service. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.080 Business license fees.

A. For purposes of this chapter, any 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 two thousand dollars ($2,000) and who does not maintain a place of business within the City shall submit a business license registration to the City Manager or designee, as provided for in this chapter. The threshold does not apply to regulatory license requirements or activities that require a specialized permit.

B. Business license fees are established by the City’s schedule of license fees, permit fees, other fees and charges for City services.

C. Appeal fees are established by the City’s schedule of license fees, permit fees, other fees and charges for City services. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.090 Prorating fee.

Repealed by Ord. 18-1032. (Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.100 Term and renewal of license.

A. All business licenses shall be effective until the expiration date established by the Business Licensing Service, unless the licensee ends the licensed business prior to the expiration of the license.

B. All business licenses must be renewed by the licensee on or before the expiration date if the business is to be continued. Application for renewal shall be made through the Business Licensing Service. Each application for renewal must be accompanied by all information required, and the total license renewal fees due for all licenses being renewed, as well as the handling fee required by RCW 19.02.075.

C. The term and respective City fee for a City business license may be prorated as necessary in order to synchronize the expiration date with the expiration of the business licensing account maintained by the Business Licensing Service.

D. Failure to renew the license by the expiration date will result in the assessment of the late penalty required by RCW 19.02.085 in addition to all other fees due.

E. Failure to renew the license within one hundred twenty (120) days of expiration will result in the cancellation of the license, and requires reapplication for a new license to continue business in the City.

F. A business that is inactive or no longer doing business in the City may indicate to the Business Licensing Service to not renew their business license, and so request cancellation of their business license. A business that has had the City business license canceled, but intends to resume business activity within the City, must reapply for a new business license as provided in this chapter. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.110 Penalty for late application.

Any licensee who fails to obtain a business license prior to commencing business in the City may be subject to a penalty per the schedule described below, which shall be added to the prescribed licensing fees, and collected directly by the City.

A. Application Not Made within Thirty (30) Days after Commencing Business.

1. A thirty (30) day penalty letter mailed to the licensee;

2. In addition to the business license fee, a penalty will be assessed per the City’s schedule of license fees, permit fees, other fees and charges for City services.

B. Application Not Made More Than Twenty-Nine (29) Days, but within Sixty (60) Days after Commencing Business.

1. Notify the licensee in writing by certified mail that they have thirty (30) days to apply and obtain a business license or be issued a notice of infraction;

2. In addition to the business license fee, a penalty will be assessed per the City’s schedule of license fees, permit fees, other fees and charges for City services;

3. Pay all accrued penalties.

C. Application Not Made More Than Fifty-Nine (59) Days but within Ninety (90) Days after Commencing Business.

1. Pay all accrued late penalties;

2. A notice of infraction is issued per SMC 1.15.065;

3. Subject to a hearing before the Municipal Judge per SMC 1.15.075; and

4. A fine levied by the Municipal Judge up to two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00).

D. Any business that has canceled its license for reason of not currently in business is not subject to late application penalties unless they resume business activity within the City without reapplying for a business license. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.120 Duties of the City Manager or designee.

The City Manager, or designee, is authorized and directed to enforce the terms and provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.130 Inspections, investigations, and right of entry.

A. All applications for business licenses may be investigated by the City Manager, or designee, and the business premises may likewise be inspected.

B. The City Manager, or designee, is authorized to make such inspections of licensed premises and take such action as may be required to enforce the provisions of this chapter. The City Manager may designate any appropriate City employee as an inspector, to undertake such inspections. Inspections shall, to the extent possible, be in compliance with the following procedure:

1. An inspector may enter any licensed business location or any business location that is required by ordinance to be licensed, at any reasonable time, to inspect the same or perform any duty imposed on the City Manager, or designee, by any business license or regulation ordinance.

2. If the place of business is occupied, the inspector shall first present proper credentials and demand entry and right to inspect.

3. If the place of business is unoccupied, the inspector shall first make a reasonable effort to locate the licensee or other person having charge or control of the premises and shall then present proper credentials and demand entry and right to inspect.

4. No licensee, employee or agent shall fail or neglect, after proper demand, to admit the inspector, acting within the scope of the inspector’s employment, to any location licensed for business, or to interfere with the inspector while in the performance of the inspector’s duty.

5. Nothing herein shall prevent or prohibit undercover investigations or inspections by appropriate officers in appropriate circumstances. (Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.140 Basis for license denial, suspension or revocation.

A business license may be denied, suspended or revoked by the City Manager or designee. The City Manager, or designee, shall notify the applicant or licensee in writing of the denial, suspension, or revocation of the business license and the grounds thereof. A business license may be denied, suspended or revoked for any of the following reasons:

A. The business license was procured by fraud or misrepresentation of fact or contains misleading statements or suppression of material facts about the business.

B. The applicant or licensee failed to pay any fee or is in default of any fee, charges or amounts due and payable to the City of SeaTac as outlined in the SeaTac Municipal Code or City’s schedule of license fees, permit fees, other fees and charges.

C. The building structure, equipment, operation or location of the business for which the license was issued does not comply with the requirements or standards of the SeaTac Municipal Code.

D. The applicant or licensee has failed to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter.

E. The applicant or licensee has applied for a business license for activities that are prohibited by law.

F. The licensee, owner, or operator of the business is currently operating a business in a manner that is prohibited by law.

G. The applicant or licensee, owner, operator, or an employee has been convicted of a crime involving the business or suffered a civil judgment which bears a direct relationship to the conduct of the business pursuant to this chapter.

H. The licensee, or licensee’s employees or agents, has engaged in, has permitted or has acquiesced in unlawful drug related activity on the business premises.

I. The licensee has caused or permitted a public nuisance to exist.

J. The applicant or licensee has failed to pay a civil penalty or to comply with any notice.

K. The applicant or licensee has failed to comply with State or Federal law.

L. It is necessary to deny, suspend, or revoke the license for the protection of the public health, safety, peace or welfare.

M. The Chief of Police has issued a declaration of chronic nuisance property against the business pursuant to Chapter 7.50 SMC. (Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.150 Procedures for a denial, suspension or revocation of a business license.

A. Denial, Suspension or Revocation of License. Any action to deny, suspend or revoke a business license applied for or issued shall be commenced by notice of the denial, suspension or revocation. A notice issued under this section shall substantially comply with the following:

1. The notice shall be delivered, by first class mail or certified mail, to the business license applicant or the holder of the business license as set forth in the most recent business license application.

2. The notice shall describe the basis for the denial, suspension or revocation.

3. The notice shall describe corrective action, if any, that may be taken to eliminate the basis for the denial, suspension or revocation.

4. The notice shall specify a date for which an appeal may be filed with the City Clerk. Such a date shall occur thirty (30) days from the date of the notice of denial, suspension or revocation and shall be made on forms provided by the City Clerk. The applicable appeal fee per the City’s schedule of license fees, permit fees, other fees and charges for City services shall be paid at the time of filing.

5. The notice shall provide that if the applicant or licensee fails to respond within thirty (30) days from the date of the notice of denial, suspension or revocation that shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing.

6. The business may continue to operate until such time as the Hearing Examiner issues a decision on the denial, suspension or revocation. (Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.160 Procedures for an appeal of a notice of denial, suspension or revocation.

A. The City Hearing Examiner is designated to hear appeals by applicants or licensees aggrieved by actions of the City Manager, or designee, pertaining to any denial, suspension, or revocation of a business license.

B. The Hearing Examiner procedures are found in Chapter 1.20 SMC, Hearing Examiner System.

C. Any licensee may, within thirty (30) days after receipt of a notice of denial, suspension or revocation, file with the City Clerk a written notice of appeal containing the following:

1. A heading with the words: “Before the City Manager or designee of the City of SeaTac.”

2. A caption reading: “Appeal of ________” giving the names of all appellants participating in the appeal.

3. A brief statement setting forth the legal interest of each of the appellants in the business involved in the notice of denial, suspension or revocation.

4. A brief statement, in concise language, of the specific notice protested, together with any material facts claimed to support the contentions of the appellant or appellants.

5. A brief statement, in concise language, of the relief sought, and the reasons why it is claimed the protested notice of denial, suspension or revocation should be reversed, modified, or otherwise set aside.

6. The signatures of all persons named as appellants, and their official mailing addresses.

7. The verification (by declaration under penalty of perjury) of each appellant as to the truth of the matters stated in the appeal.

D. As soon as practicable after receiving the written appeal, but not greater than thirty (30) days, the City Clerk shall fix a date, time, and place for the hearing of the appeal by the Hearing Examiner. Written notice of the time and place of the hearing shall be given at least ten (10) days prior to the date of the hearing by the City Clerk, by mailing a copy thereof, postage prepaid, by certified mail with return receipt requested, addressed to each appellant at his or her address shown on the notice of appeal.

E. At the hearing, the appellant or appellants shall be entitled to appear in person, and to be represented by counsel and to offer such evidence as may be pertinent and material to the denial, suspension or revocation of the notice. The technical rules of evidence need not be followed.

F. Only those matters or issues specifically raised by the appellant or appellants in the written notice of appeal shall be considered in the hearing of the appeal.

G. Within ten (10) business days following conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Examiner shall make written findings of fact and conclusions of law, supported by the record, and a decision which may affirm, modify, or overrule the order of the City Manager, or designee, and may further impose terms as conditions to issuance or continuation of a business license.

H. Failure of any applicant or licensee to file an appeal in accordance with the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a waiver of the right to a hearing.

I. The decision of the Hearing Examiner is considered final and conclusive per SMC 1.20.100(H).

J. Enforcement of any civil penalty, denial, suspension or revocation of any business license, or other order of the City Manager, or designee, shall be stayed during the pendency of an appeal therefrom which is properly and timely filed. (Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.170 Continuation of license upon death of licensee.

In event of the death of any natural person who had personally held a business license issued by the City, his or her duly appointed executor or administrator, or other lawful representative so appointed, may continue to conduct business on behalf of the decedent’s estate under the license issued to the decedent, or as it may be reassigned to accommodate the business registration for the decedent’s estate through the Department of Revenue, Business Licensing Service, including renewal of the business license as may be necessary, for the term required for disposition of the decedent’s business. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.180 Assignment of licenses.

Every business license shall be personal to the licensee and shall not be assignable or transferable to any person, except as provided in SMC 5.05.170. (Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.190 Engaging in business without a license or payment of fee.

If any person engages in a business without a license, or fails or refuses to pay the prescribed license fee for any license term, the City Manager or designee shall follow these procedures:

A. Notify the licensee in writing by first class mail, certified mail or personal service that they are operating a business within the City limits without a business license and have thirty (30) days to apply and obtain a business license as specified in SMC 5.05.020.

B. If the licensee fails to respond to the letter within thirty (30) days, the licensee will be subject to penalties as set forth in this chapter. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.200 Violations, penalties and enforcement.

A. It is unlawful for any person either directly or indirectly to engage in business within the City without having first obtained a business license as required pursuant to this chapter.

B. It is unlawful for any person either directly or indirectly to engage in business within the City without obtaining a renewed business license for the current business license term as required pursuant to this chapter.

C. Each day that a person engages in business without a valid business license constitutes a separate offense.

D. It is a civil infraction, subject to a penalty of three hundred dollars ($300.00) including costs and assessments, for any person to violate any provision of this chapter, and such person may also be subject to the penalties prescribed in Chapter 1.15 SMC. The penalties set forth herein are not exclusive. The City Manager or his/her designee may seek civil enforcement and remedies as allowed by law.

E. The City Attorney’s Office shall have the discretion to file criminal charges when a person willfully or knowingly violates, by way of repeat violations, the provisions of this chapter. A criminal violation under this subsection is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) or imprisonment for a term not to exceed ninety (90) days, or both. (Ord. 19-1014 § 1 (part), 2019: Ord. 18-1032 § 1 (part): Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.210 Pawnbrokers.

Repealed by Ord. 18-1032. (Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))

5.05.220 Charitable solicitations.

Repealed by Ord. 18-1032. (Ord. 16-1019 § 1 (part))


1

For provisions and regulations concerning solicitors and canvassers, see Ch. 5.10.