(1) Introduction. This rule explains the tax reporting responsibilities of persons engaged in the business of transporting by motor vehicle persons or property for hire. It explains transportation business and the application of public utility tax (PUT), business and occupation (B&O), and retail sales taxes to persons engaged in the business.
(a) Examples. This rule contains examples that identify a number of facts and then state a conclusion. The examples should be used only as a general guide. The tax results of other situations must be determined after a review of all the facts and circumstances.
(b) References to related rules. The department of revenue (department) has adopted other rules that relate to the application of the PUT. Readers may want to refer to the rules in the following list:
(i) WAC 458-20-104
Small business tax relief based on income of business;
(iii) WAC 458-20-171
Building, repairing or improving streets, roads, etc., which are owned by a municipal corporation or political subdivision of the state or by the United States and which are used primarily for foot or vehicular traffic;
(iv) WAC 458-20-174
Sales of motor vehicles, trailers, and parts to motor carriers operating in interstate or foreign commerce;
(v) WAC 458-20-175
Persons engaged in the business of operating as a private or common carrier by air, rail or water in interstate or foreign commerce;
(vi) WAC 458-20-178
Use tax and the use of tangible personal property;
(viii) WAC 458-20-193D
Transportation, communication, public utility activities, or other services in interstate or foreign commerce.
(2) What is a motor transportation business?
A "motor transportation business" is a business operating any motor propelled vehicle transporting persons or property of others for hire and includes, but is not limited to, the operation of any motor propelled vehicle as an auto transportation company, common carrier, or contract carrier as defined by RCW 81.68.010
. See RCW 82.16.010
. The term "motor transportation business" does not include any "urban transportation business" as described in subsection (4) of this rule.
(a) It includes hauling for hire any extracted or manufactured material, over the state's highways and over private roads but does not include:
(i) The transportation of logs or other forest products exclusively on private roads or private highways (which is subject to the service B&O tax, e.g., see WAC 458-20-13501
Timber harvest operations); and
(ii) A log transportation business as described in subsection (3) of this rule.
(b) It does not include the hauling of any earth or other substance excavated or extracted from or taken to the right of way of a publicly owned street, place, road, or highway, by a person taxable under the public road construction B&O tax classification, regardless of whether or not the earth moving portion is separately stated. See WAC 458-20-171
for more information.
(3) What is a log transportation business?
A "log transportation business" means the business of transporting logs by truck, except when such transportation meets the definition of urban transportation business or occurs exclusively on private roads. See RCW 82.16.010
. Effective August 1, 2015, RCW 82.16.020
provides a preferential public utility tax rate for log transportation businesses.
(4) What is an urban transportation business? An "urban transportation business" is a business operating any vehicle for public use in the transportation of persons or property for hire, when:
• Operating entirely within the corporate limits of any city or town, or within five miles of the corporate limits thereof; or
• Operating entirely within and between cities and towns whose corporate limits are not more than five miles apart or within five miles of the corporate limits of either thereof.
(a) The five mile standard.
"Operating entirely within five miles of the corporate limits thereof" means the five-mile standard is applied on a straight line from the corporate limits and not based on road mileage. It is immaterial how many miles the carrier travels from the origin to the termination of the haul as long as the origin and the termination of the haul are within five miles of the corporate limits. See RCW 82.16.010
(b) What is included in urban transportation? Urban transportation includes, but is not limited to, the business of operating passenger vehicles of every type and also the business of operating cartage, pickup or delivery services, including the collection and distribution of property arriving from or destined to a point within or without the state, whether or not such collection or distribution be made by the person performing a local or interstate line-haul of such property. See subsection (7)(d) of this rule for deduction information for interstate transportation of persons or property.
(c) What is not urban transportation? Urban transportation does not include the business of operating any vehicle for transporting persons or property for hire when the origin or termination is more than five miles beyond the corporate limits of any city (or contiguous cities) through which it passes. Thus an operation extending from a city to a point which is more than five miles beyond its corporate limits does not constitute urban transportation. This is true even if the route is through intermediate cities that enable the vehicle to always be within five miles of a city's corporate limits. See subsection (2) of this rule for "What is a motor transportation business?"
(5) What does "motor transportation" and "urban transportation" include? Motor and urban transportation include the business of operating motor-driven vehicles, on public roads, used in transporting persons or property belonging to others, on a for-hire basis. These terms include the business of:
(a) Operating taxicabs, armored cars, and contract mail delivery vehicles, but do not include the businesses of operating auto wreckers or towing vehicles (taxable as sales at retail under RCW 82.04.050
), school buses, ambulances, nor the collection and disposal of solid waste (taxable under the service and other activities B&O tax classification); and
(b) Renting or leasing trucks, trailers, buses, automobiles, and similar motor vehicles to others for use in the conveyance of persons or property when as an incident of the rental contract such motor vehicles are operated by the lessor or by an employee of the lessor.
(6) Why is the distinction between the motor and urban transportation classifications important? These tax classifications have different tax rates and it is important to segregate the gross income of each activity. The gross income of persons engaged in the business of motor transportation is taxed under the motor transportation PUT classification. The gross income of persons engaged in the business of urban transportation is taxed under the urban transportation PUT classification. The gross income of persons engaged in both urban and motor transportation is taxed under the motor transportation classification, unless the revenue is segregated as shown by their records.
(7) Are deductions available?
Income, as described below, may be deducted from the taxable amounts reported, provided the amounts were originally included in the gross income. See WAC 458-20-179
for generally applicable deductions for PUT, such as bad debt and cash discount.
(a) Fees and charges for public transportation services.
provides a deduction for amounts derived from fees or charges imposed on persons for transit services provided by a public transportation agency. Public transportation agencies must spend an amount equal to the tax reduction provided by this deduction solely to:
• Adjust routes to improve access for citizens using food banks and senior citizen services; or
• To extend or add new routes to assist low-income citizens and seniors.
(b) Services furnished jointly.
In general, costs of doing business are not deductible under the public utility tax (PUT). However, RCW 82.16.050
does allow a deduction for amounts actually paid by a taxpayer to another person taxable under the PUT as the latter's portion of the consideration due for services furnished jointly by both, provided the full amount paid by the customer for the service is received by the taxpayer and reported as gross income subject to the PUT.
This includes the amount paid to a ferry company for the transportation of a vehicle and its contents (but not amounts paid to state owned or operated ferries) when the vehicle is carrying freight or passengers for hire and is being operated by a person engaged in the business of motor or urban transportation. This does not include amounts paid for transporting such vehicles over toll bridges.
Example 1. A customer hires ABC Transport (ABC) to haul goods from Tacoma to a manufacturing facility in Bellingham. ABC subcontracts part of the haul to XYZ Freight (XYZ) and has XYZ haul the goods from Tacoma to Everett where the goods are loaded into ABC's truck and transported to Bellingham. Assuming all other requirements of the deduction are met, ABC may deduct the payments it makes to XYZ from its gross income as XYZ's portion of the consideration paid by the customer for transportation services furnished jointly by ABC and XYZ.
(c) Transportation of commodities to export facilities.
Income received from transporting commodities from points of origin in this state to an export elevator, wharf, dock, or ship side on tidewater or its navigable tributaries is deductible under RCW 82.16.050
. The deduction is only available when the commodities are forwarded, without intervening transportation, by vessel, in their original form, to interstate or foreign destinations. However, this deduction is not available when the point of origin and the point of delivery to the export elevator, wharf, dock, or ship side are located within the corporate limits of the same city or town.
(i) Example 2.
AB Transport moves freight by tug and barge from points in Washington to terminal facilities at tidewater ports in Washington. The freight is subsequently shipped from the ports by vessel to interstate and foreign destinations. AB Transport may deduct the gross income from these shipments under RCW 82.16.050
(ii) Example 3. ABC Trucking hauls widgets from the manufacturing plant to a storage area that is adjacent to the dock. The storage area is quite large and the widgets are moved from the storage area to alongside the ship in time for loading. The widgets are loaded on the ship and then transported to a foreign country. ABC Trucking may take a deduction for the amounts received for transporting the widgets from the manufacturer to the storage area. The movement of the widgets within the storage area is not considered "intervening transportation," but is part of the stevedoring activity.
(iii) Example 4. ABC Trucking hauls several types of widgets from the manufacturing plant to a "staging area" where the widgets are sorted. After sorting, XY Hauling transports some of the widgets from the staging area to local buyers and other widgets to the dock that is located approximately five miles from the staging area where the widgets are immediately loaded on a vessel for shipment to Japan. The dock and staging area are not within the corporate city limits of the same city. ABC Trucking may not take a deduction for amounts received for hauling widgets to the staging area. Even though some of the widgets ultimately were exported, ABC Trucking did not deliver the widgets to the dock where the widgets were loaded on a vessel.
However, XY Hauling may take a deduction for the gross income for hauls from the staging area to the dock. The widgets were loaded on the vessel in their original form with no additional processing. The haul also did not originate or terminate within the corporate city limits of the same city or town. All the conditions were met for XY Hauling to claim the deduction.
(d) Interstate transportation of persons or property.
Income received from transporting persons or property by motor transportation equipment where either the origin or destination of the haul is outside the state of Washington is deductible. The interstate movement originates or terminates at the point where the transport obligation of the interstate carrier begins or ends. See WAC 458-20-193D
for additional information on interstate activities. Transportation provided within the state prior to the point of origin of the interstate movement or subsequent to the point of destination within this state is wholly intrastate and not deductible.
Example 5. Airport B Shuttle provides transportation to and from the airport for persons departing or arriving from destinations that may or may not be out of state. This service is not incidental to any interstate movement and thus gross income is taxable under either motor or urban transportation.
(e) Interstate transportation of commodities.
Income received from the transportation of commodities from points of origin in this state to final destination outside this state, or from points of origin outside this state to final destination in this state are deductible under RCW 82.16.050
where the carrier grants to the shipper the privilege of stopping the shipment in transit at some point in this state for the purpose of storing, manufacturing, milling, or other processing, and thereafter forwards the same commodity, or its equivalent, in the same or converted form, under a through freight rate from point of origin to final destination.
(f) Transportation of agricultural commodities.
Certain income received from the transportation of agricultural commodities can be deducted when the commodities do not include manufactured substances or articles. For the income to be deducted, the commodities must be transported from points of origin in the state to interim storage facilities in this state for transshipment, without intervening transportation, to an export elevator, wharf, dock, or ship side on tidewater or its navigable tributaries to be forwarded, without intervening transportation, by vessel, in their original form, to interstate or foreign destinations. If agricultural commodities are transshipped from interim storage facilities in this state to storage facilities at a port on tidewater or its navigable tributaries, the same agricultural commodity dealer must operate both the interim storage facilities and the storage facilities at the port. RCW 82.16.050
(i) The deduction under this subsection is available only when the person claiming the deduction obtains a completed "Certificate of Agricultural Commodity Shipped to Interstate and Foreign Destinations" from the agricultural commodity dealer operating the interim storage facilities.
(ii) A blank certificate can be found on the department's web site at dor.wa.gov
. The form may also be obtained by contacting the department's telephone information center at 1- 800-647-7706
, or by writing the department at:
Taxpayer Information and Education
Department of Revenue
P.O. Box 47478
Olympia, WA 98504-7478
(8) Exemption for income from persons with special transportation needs.
provides an exemption from PUT for amounts received for providing commuter share riding or ride sharing for persons with special transportation needs in accordance with RCW 46.74.010
. Transportation must be provided by a public social service agency or a private, nonprofit transportation provider as defined in RCW 81.66.010
(9) Business activities other than hauling. Persons engaged in the business of motor or urban transportation may also receive income from other business activities. The tax consequences of this income is generally based on whether or not these services are performed as a part of or are incidental to the hauling activity, or are services where the taxpayer does not haul the shipment.
(a) Handling and other services that are a part of or incidental to the hauling activity. When a person performs activities such as packing, crating, loading or unloading of goods that the person is hauling for the customer, those services are considered to be performed as a part of the hauling activity, or are services incidental to the haul itself. The gross income from those services is taxed in the same manner as the hauling activity, e.g., motor or urban transportation.
Example 6. Mary hires Luke's Packing & Hauling Co. (Luke's) to load, haul, and unload her belongings at a local storage facility just a couple of miles down the street from the city apartment she is vacating. Luke's will report the gross income from Mary under the urban transportation PUT classification.
(b) Handling and other services that are not a part of or incidental to the hauling activity.
(i) If a person engaged in hauling activities packs, crates, loads, or unloads goods that the person is not also hauling for the customer, the gross income from these activities will generally be subject to service and other activities B&O tax.
Example 7. James hires Luke's Packing & Hauling (Luke's) to wrap, pack, and crate his belongings in preparation for long-term storage. Luke's will not be hauling James' belongings as Haul and Storage Inc. has been hired to pick up the belongings and put them in their storage facility. Luke's will report the gross income for wrapping, packing, and crating James' belongings under the service and other activities B&O tax classification.
(ii) A person engaged in hauling activities may also perform services that are not a part of or are separate from the hauling activity. The gross income from these activities is not subject to the motor or urban transportation PUT, but is instead subject to tax based on the nature of the activity and other provisions of the law.
Affordable Hauling and Storage (Affordable) hauls products for hire and also operates a warehouse. Big Manufacturing Company (Big) hires Affordable to pick-up and deliver products to and from Affordable's warehouse for long-term storage. Affordable charges Big for the hauling services as they occur and also separately invoices Big a monthly fee for storing the products. The income from the hauling services is subject to the motor transportation or urban transportation PUT classification, as the case may be. The monthly storage charges are subject to the warehousing B&O tax classification. See WAC 458-20-182
for an explanation of the tax-reporting responsibilities of warehouse businesses.
(c) Sales, leases, or rentals of tangible personal property by motor carriers.
Persons engaged in either motor or urban transportation may also sell, lease, or rent tangible personal property, such as forklifts or trailers. Gross income from the sale, lease, or rental of tangible personal property without an operator to a consumer, is subject to retailing B&O and retail sales taxes, unless a specific exemption applies. If the sale is a sale for resale, the sale is subject to the wholesaling B&O tax classification. For information regarding the tax reporting responsibilities of persons that lease or rent tangible personal property see WAC 458-20-211
If the sale, lease, or rental of the property qualifies for one of the retail sales tax exemptions for equipment used in interstate commerce provided by RCW 82.08.0262
(e.g., as may be the case with a trailer used in interstate commerce), the retailing of interstate transportation equipment B&O tax classification applies. Refer to WAC 458-20-174
for information on limited exemptions that may apply to motor carriers operating in interstate or foreign commerce.
(10) Purchases of tangible personal property.
Persons engaged in the business of motor or urban transportation must pay retail sales tax to their vendors when purchasing motor vehicles, trailers, parts, equipment, tools, supplies, and other tangible personal property for use in conducting their business. Refer to WAC 458-20-174
for limited exemptions that may apply to motor carriers operating in interstate or foreign commerce.
(11) Purchases made for rental or lease to others.
Persons buying motor vehicles, trailers and similar equipment solely for the purpose of renting or leasing the same without an operator are making purchases for resale. The seller must obtain a copy of the buyer's reseller permit from the buyer to document the wholesale nature of any sale as provided in WAC 458-20-102
[Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300
(2). WSR 16-01-037, § 458-20-180, filed 12/9/15, effective 1/9/16. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300
(2), and chapter 82.16
RCW. WSR 13-14-121, § 458-20-180, filed 7/3/13, effective 8/3/13. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300
. WSR 83-07-033 (Order ET 83-16), § 458-20-180, filed 3/15/83; Order ET 70-3, § 458-20-180 (Rule 180), filed 5/29/70, effective 7/1/70.]