Chapter 5.04


5.04.005    Chapter and purpose.

5.04.010    Power to license for regulation and/or revenue.

5.04.020    Definitions.

5.04.025    Engaging in business.

5.04.030    Business license required – Notices.

5.04.040    License fees.

5.04.050    Application and renewal.

5.04.060    Businesses located outside city.

5.04.070    Exemptions.

5.04.080    Investigations and background checks.

5.04.090    Nonconforming uses.

5.04.100    Inspections – Right of entry.

5.04.110    Denial, revocation or suspension of license – Generally.

5.04.120    Suspension or revocation procedure.

5.04.130    Appeal to the hearing examiner.

5.04.140    Mailing of notices.

5.04.150    Authority of director.

5.04.160    Disclaimer of city liability.

5.04.170    License fee additional to others.

5.04.180    Fee constitutes debt.

5.04.190    Assignment of licenses.

5.04.200    Penalties – Violations.

5.04.005 Chapter and purpose.

In order for the city to responsibly carry out the duties and authorities delegated to it by the Washington State Constitution and the laws of the state of Washington as a noncharter code city, maintenance of current information with respect to business, trade, service, commercial and professional activities carried on within the city is necessary and essential to the public health, safety and welfare. Such information can best be accumulated and maintained on a current basis through the establishment of a program for the licensing and registration of such activities. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.010 Power to license for regulation and/or revenue.

The provisions of this chapter shall be deemed an exercise of the power of the city to license for revenue and to maintain current information with respect to business, trade, service, commercial and professional activities carried on within the city necessary and essential to the public health, safety and welfare. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.020 Definitions.

In construing the provisions of this chapter, except when otherwise declared apparent or clearly from the context a different meaning is intended, the following definitions shall be applied:

“Business” or “occupation” shall mean and include all activities, occupations, trades, pursuits or professions located and/or engaged in, within the city, with the object of gain, benefit, profit or advantage to the person or business owner, or to another person or class, directly or indirectly, regardless of where their permanent location of business is located. Each business location shall be deemed a separate business.

“Director” means the city administrator, or any officer, agent or employee of the city designated to act on the city administrator’s behalf.

“Employee” means any person employed at any business enterprise that performs any part of their duties within the city, except casual laborers not employed in the usual course of business.

Engaging in Business. See SMC 5.04.025.

“Nonprofit” and “not-for-profit” means any activities and fund-raising sales carried on by religious, charitable, educational, benevolent, fraternal or social organizations which have been determined by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States to be exempt from the payment of income tax or corporations registered as nonprofit by the Secretary of State’s Office.

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

“Person or business owner” includes any person who engages in business or who is required to have a business license hereunder, or who is liable for the collection of any license fee hereunder, or who performs any act for which license fee is imposed by this chapter. (Ord. 2657 § 1, 2018: Ord. 2470 § 1, 2014: Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.025 Engaging in business.

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 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 director 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 events.” 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. 2657 § 2, 2018)

5.04.030 Business license required – Notices.

It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to engage in any business, occupation or pursuit, as defined in SMC 5.04.020, in the city without first having obtained a business license therefor as provided in this chapter. The business license provided for in this chapter shall be posted in a conspicuous location at the place of the business. Such business license is nontransferable. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.040 License fees.

A. There is hereby levied upon and shall be collected from every person engaging in business in the city an annual license fee to identify and register businesses that are active in the city and for the privilege of engaging in business. The annual license fee shall be $50.00. The license will expire 12 months from the date of issuance.

B. If any person or business owner required by the terms and provisions of this chapter to pay a license fee for any period fails or refuses to do so, that person shall not be granted a license for the current period until such delinquent license fee, together with penalties, has been paid in full. (Ord. 2657 § 3, 2018: Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.050 Application and renewal.

A. Application for a business license or renewal thereof shall be made by filing a master application and city addendum form through the State Department of Revenue Business Licensing Service, in coordination with the director, giving such information as is deemed reasonably necessary to enable the enforcement of this chapter. Persons applying for a license must pay a fee as established by the city council and the Business Licensing Service’s handling fee.

B. The director shall, when appropriate, refer applications to the development services department, the police department, or other governmental agencies for their review.

C. The filing of an application for a license, or the renewal thereof, or the payment of any application or renewal fee, shall not authorize a person to engage in or conduct a business until such license has been granted or renewed.

D. A licensee must report a change of location of the business to the Business Licensing Service, in coordination with the director. A change of the location of a business requires approval by the city before business may commence at the new location, and may require submitting a new master application and payment of fees.

E. License renewals are handled by the Business Licensing Service in coordination with the city. Renewal of the city license requires payment of fees including handling fees. The city is authorized but not required to mail forms for applications for licenses, but failure of the person or business owner to receive any such forms shall not excuse the person or business owner from making application for and securing the license required and payment of the license fee. (Ord. 2788 § 3, 2021; Ord. 2778 § 1 (Exh. A), 2021; Ord. 2657 § 4, 2018: Ord. 2470 § 3 (part), 2014; Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.060 Businesses outside city.

Businesses not located in the city are subject to all of the provisions of this chapter; provided, that they meet the definition of engaging in business and are not subject to any exemptions listed in SMC 5.04.070. (Ord. 2657 § 5, 2018: Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.070 Exemptions.

Upon approval of the director and further provided that all other provisions of this chapter are complied with, including without limitation the requirement to obtain and maintain a current business license, the requirement to pay license fees shall not apply to the following:

A. 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 $2,000 and who does not maintain a place of business within the city shall be exempt from the general business license requirements in this chapter. The exemption does not apply to regulatory license requirements or activities that require a specialized permit;

B. Nonprofit organizations as defined in SMC 5.04.020, including but not limited to religious, civic, charitable, benevolent, nonprofit, cultural or youth organizations which has received tax-exempt status under IRC 501(c)(3), 26 USCA 501(c)(3), as adopted or amended; provided, that a nonprofit organization or corporation shall be required to complete the license application form;

C. Any instrumentality of the United States, state of Washington, or any political subdivision thereof, with respect to the exercise of governmental functions;

D. Any farmer or gardener who sells, delivers or peddles any fruit, vegetables, berries, butter, eggs, or any farm produce or edibles raised, gathered, produced or manufactured by such person; provided, that this exemption shall not apply to any person selling, delivering or peddling any dairy products, meat, poultry, eel, fish, mollusk or shellfish;

E. Persons engaged in irregular, casual activities such as babysitting, delivery of newspapers, casual lawn mowing, casual car washing, and other similar activities or minors engaged in a de minimis entrepreneurial venture on private residential property including, but not limited to, a lemonade stand;

F. Persons engaged in commerce using an Internet website, hobbyists, and crafters who engage in sales that do not involve home visits or physical location in the city; and

G. Businesses that do not have a physical location within the city that are selling merchandise or soliciting services as a registered attendee at a permitted special event as described in chapter 12.52 SMC, or a trade show occurring solely on private property. Services rendered outside of the special event or trade show are not exempt from licensing and shall comply with all other sections of this chapter; and

H. Businesses meeting all of the following criteria:

1. Having no salespeople soliciting sales within the city;

2. Having no installers or contractors working within the city;

3. Having no offices, warehouses or other physical location(s) within the city; and

4. Having no inventory located within the city. (Ord. 2657 § 6, 2018: Ord. 2470 § 3 (part), 2014; Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.080 Investigations and background checks.

A. Any application for licenses may be investigated by such departments or officers of the city as the director may determine.

B. All applicants for a license may be subject to a criminal background check and the results of such check may be sufficient grounds for denial of a license. (Ord. 2470 § 3 (part), 2014; Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.090 Nonconforming uses.

There exists a need to identify and register businesses which are active in the city in order to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the community. The issuance of a business license by the city does not constitute either approval of a business or the use of any particular parcel in the city for a business purpose. By issuing a business license, the city shall not be precluded from taking enforcement action against any use which is not authorized in the zone in which it is occurring, and does not vest the licensee with any rights to continue a nonconforming use. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.100 Inspections – Right of entry.

The director, or their designee, is authorized, as allowed by law, to make inspections of any licensed premises during normal hours of operation of said business and take action as may be required to enforce the provisions of the Sumner Municipal Code. (Ord. 2778 § 1 (Exh. A), 2021; Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.110 Denial, revocation or suspension of license – Generally.

A. Any of the grounds below provide a basis for license suspension, revocation or denial; provided, that no business license issued pursuant to this code shall be suspended, revoked, or denied without cause.

1. Any application to conduct, in whole or in part, activity that is illegal under local, state or federal law.

2. Any applicant, licensee or employee of applicant or licensee who has been convicted of a crime relevant to the business within 10 years for a felony conviction, five years for a gross misdemeanor conviction and three years for a misdemeanor conviction.

3. Within the last five years, any applicant, licensee or employee of applicant or licensee who has suffered any of the following which is relevant to the business: a civil judgment, or any other judgment, cease and desist order, notice and order, consent decree, or administrative action, including prior licensing actions.

4. Any applicant, licensee or employee of applicant, licensee or employee of applicant or licensee who has failed to comply with any of the provisions of this chapter or any other provisions of the Sumner Municipal Code.

5. Any applicant, licensee or employee of applicant or licensee, if any reasonable grounds exist to believe that such person is dishonest in a manner that is relevant to the business, or that the license was procured by fraud or misrepresentation of fact, or desires to obtain a business license so as to practice some illegal act, some act injurious to the public health, safety or welfare or engaged in unlawful activity.

6. Any applicant, licensee or employee of applicant or licensee who has caused, maintained, permitted, allowed or is likely to cause, maintain, permit, or allow a public nuisance to exist. “Public nuisance,” in addition to its common meaning, includes but is not limited to a business generating a need for significant police and/or other government services and/or as otherwise defined in the Sumner Municipal Code.

7. Any applicant, licensee, or employee of applicant or licensee or their agents have or will engage in, maintain, permit, allow or fail to prevent unlawful activity on the business premises.

8. The applicant, licensee or employee of applicant or licensee failed to pay a civil penalty or to comply with any notice and order of the city.

9. If reasonable grounds exist to believe that any applicant, licensee or employee of applicant or licensee is likely to present an adverse impact to the public health, safety, or welfare for any other reason, including but not limited to conduct related to past operations of business.

10. The applicant has had a similar license revoked or suspended pursuant to the provisions of SMC 5.04.120.

11. The applicant or licensee is in default in any payment of any license fee or tax under this title.

B. The director shall have the power and authority to suspend or revoke any registration or license issued under the provisions of this chapter. The director shall notify such licensee in writing by certified mail of the suspension or revocation of its license and the grounds therefor.

C. Upon revocation, said or similar business shall not be granted a license, upon any new application that may be made, for a period of 60 calendar days from date of revocation. The period of suspension shall be fixed by the director for up to and including 10 days for the first suspension and up to and including 30 days for any subsequent suspension within 12 calendar months of a prior suspension.

D. It is unlawful for any person whose license has been revoked or suspended to continue operations of the business enterprise, or to keep the license issued to him/her in his/her possession and control, and the same shall immediately be surrendered to the director. When revoked, the license shall be canceled, and when suspended, the director shall retain it during the period of suspension.

E. Upon denial of a license, the director shall, by certified mail, give written notice of such action to the applicant, which notice shall include a written report summarizing the complaints, objections and information received and considered by the director and further stating the basis for such action.

F. Any person, including city officials, may submit complaints or objections to the director regarding the application of a license, and the director is additionally authorized to request and receive information from all city departments as will tend to aid him/her in determining whether to issue or deny the license. Such information shall be confidential unless a hearing is requested on the application, or if the applicant shall request the information in writing. All information, complaints or objections shall be investigated and considered by the director prior to issuing, denying or renewing any license. (Ord. 2470 §§ 2, 3 (part), 2014: Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.120 Suspension or revocation procedure.

A. Actions to suspend or revoke any license shall be commenced by filing with the director a written complaint setting forth in specific terms the basis therefor. The director shall also have authority to initiate suspension or revocation action on his or her own without a complaint. Upon receipt of such complaint, the director shall review the allegations set forth in the complaint and perform a preliminary review of the facts as deemed appropriate under the circumstances to determine if the allegations in the complaint may constitute cause for suspension or revocation. If the director determines that the allegations in the complaint may constitute cause for suspension or revocation, a copy of such complaint shall be mailed by certified mail to the licensee at his/her last address as shown by the license records of the director, and shall be accompanied by a notice that the license may be suspended or revoked.

B. The licensee shall, within 10 working days after receiving any such complaint, mail by certified mail to the complainant and file with the director his/her written answer which shall admit or deny the allegations of the complaint. The licensee may provide other information with the answer licensee deems relevant for consideration by the director.

C. Upon failure of any licensee to file an answer as provided in this section or in the event that no hearing is requested, as set forth below, the director shall investigate the allegations of the complaint and, if cause exists therefor, may recommend suspension or revocation of the license, or otherwise he/she shall dismiss the complaint; provided, that if the director finds upon a sufficient showing that the conduct complained of has been corrected and is unlikely to be repeated, he/she may dismiss such complaint; and provided further, that the complaint shall be dismissed where the conduct complained of has been corrected.

D. Notice of the action of the director summarizing his/her findings and conclusions and recommended action to be taken on the permit, if any, shall be mailed by certified mail to the complainant and to the licensee. (Ord. 2470 § 3 (part), 2014; Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.130 Appeal to the hearing examiner.

A. In all cases in which a complaint is dismissed, other than upon a written agreement between the complainant and the licensee, or in which the license is denied, suspended or revoked, or related action as provided for herein is taken by the city, the aggrieved party may within 10 working days from the date of the mailing of the notice of the city’s action request a hearing before the hearing examiner. The request for a hearing must be in writing, filed with the director and accompanied by a check in the sum of $50.00. The director shall transmit the request for a hearing to the hearing examiner. If no request for a hearing is received within the time specified, the city’s action shall be final.

B. The hearing before the hearing examiner shall be held according to the applicable procedures set forth in chapter 2.58 SMC. When hearing an appeal of a denial, suspension or revocation of a business license, the hearing examiner shall be guided by the standards set forth in this section. The decision of the director shall be given substantial weight by the hearing examiner. The hearing examiner shall give at least 10 days’ written notice of the hearing to the appellant. No public notice shall be required. The hearing examiner shall issue a decision within 14 days following the closure of the record. The hearing examiner’s decision on such business license shall represent the final action by the city, unless an appeal is filed in the Pierce County superior court within 14 calendar days from the date of the final decision of the hearing examiner requesting a review of such decision.

C. When a hearing before the hearing examiner has been requested by a licensee in connection with the suspension or revocation of a license, the license shall remain in effect pending the determination made as a result of such hearing; provided, that in cases involving a substantial threat to the public health, safety or welfare, the license may be summarily suspended and in such case the date for the hearing before the hearing examiner shall be set within five days following the filing of the request for a hearing. (Ord. 2470 § 3 (part), 2014; Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.140 Mailing of notices.

Any notice required by this chapter to be mailed to any person or business owner shall be sent by ordinary mail, addressed to the address of the person or business owner as shown in the records of the director, or if no such address is shown, to such address as the director is able to ascertain by reasonable effort. Failure of the person or business owner to receive any such mailed notice shall not release the person or business owner from any fees or any penalties thereon, nor shall such failure operate to extend any time limit set by the provisions of this chapter. (Ord. 2470 § 3 (part), 2014; Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.150 Authority of director.

The director shall have the power, and it shall be the director’s duty, from time to time, to adopt, publish and enforce rules and regulations not inconsistent with this chapter or with the law for the purpose of carrying out the provisions hereof, and it is unlawful to violate or fail to comply with any such rules or regulations. (Ord. 2470 § 3 (part), 2014; Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.160 Disclaimer of city liability.

The city of Sumner expressly finds and requires that responsibility for compliance with the provisions of this chapter rest with license applicants and their agents and that no action, inaction, or omission of the city or any of its agents or employees shall serve to assume or shift responsibility for compliance with the provisions of this chapter to any other party, including the city. Furthermore, issuance of a license pursuant to this chapter does not constitute the creation of a duty by the city to indemnify the licensee for any wrongful acts against the public, or to guarantee the quality of goods, services or expertise of a licensee. The issuance of a license does not shift responsibility from the licensee to the city for proper training, conduct or equipment of the licensee or their agents, employees or representatives, even if specific regulations require standards of training, conduct or inspection. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.170 License fee additional to others.

The license fee herein levied shall be additional to any license fee imposed or levied under the law of any other chapter of the city except as herein otherwise expressly provided. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.180 Fee constitutes debt.

Any license fee due and unpaid under this chapter, and all penalties thereon, shall constitute a debt to the city and may be collected by court proceedings in the same manner as any other debt in like amount, which remedy shall be in addition to all other existing remedies. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.190 Assignment of licenses.

No license may be assigned or transferred. In accordance with the provisions of this chapter, a new license and payment of fees shall be required for any form of ownership change. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)

5.04.200 Penalties – Violations.

A. Violations. It shall be unlawful for any person to violate any of the provisions of this chapter and such person shall be subject to the penalties detailed below. Additionally, the license of the business in which a violation occurs may be revoked for such violation, whether the owner knew of or encouraged the violation.

B. Monetary Penalties.

1. Penalties. Any person who operates a business without a license or fails to renew a business license issued pursuant to this chapter shall be deemed to have committed an infraction and shall be assessed a maximum penalty of $250.00. This penalty shall be in addition to the required license fee.

2. Collection. Any license fee due and unpaid and delinquent under this chapter shall constitute a debt of the city. The city may, pursuant to chapter 19.16 RCW, use a collection agency to collect unpaid fees or taxes owed or assessed, or it may seek collection by court proceedings, which remedies shall be in addition to all other remedies.

C. Criminal Penalties for Repeat Violations. A second or repeat violation of any provision of this chapter shall constitute a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of a sum not exceeding $1,000 or by imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or by both such fine and imprisonment. Each separate day or portion thereof during which any violation of any provision of this chapter shall constitute a separate violation and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in this section. (Ord. 2225 § 1 (part), 2007)