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458-20-183  <<  458-20-185 >>   458-20-186

WAC 458-20-185

Agency filings affecting this section

Tax on tobacco products.

(1) Introduction. This rule explains the tax liabilities of persons engaged in business as retailers or distributors of tobacco products other than cigarettes. The tax on tobacco products (also called "other tobacco products tax," "tobacco tax," or "OTP tax") is in addition to all other taxes owed, such as retailing or wholesaling business and occupation tax, sales tax, and litter tax. See WAC 458-20-186 for tax liabilities associated with taxes that apply exclusively to cigarettes.
(2) Organization of rule. The information provided in this rule is divided into five parts:
(a) Part I provides definitions and explains the tax liabilities of persons engaged in the business of selling or distributing tobacco products (excluding cigarettes) in this state.
(b) Part II explains wholesale and retail tobacco products vendor licensing requirements and responsibilities.
(c) Part III explains the requirements and responsibilities for persons transporting tobacco products in Washington.
(d) Part IV explains the recordkeeping requirements and enforcement of the tobacco tax.
(e) Part V describes the credits for tax paid and the procedures that must be followed to qualify for credit.
Part I - Tax on Tobacco Products (excluding Cigarettes)
(101) Definitions. For the purposes of this rule, the following definitions apply:
(a) "Actual price" means the total amount of consideration for which tobacco products are sold, valued in money, whether received in money or otherwise, including any charges by the seller necessary to complete the sale such as charges for delivery, freight, transportation, or handling.
(b) "Affiliated" means related in any way by virtue of any form or amount of common ownership, control, operation, or management.
(c) "Board" means the liquor control board.
(d) "Business" means any trade, occupation, activity, or enterprise engaged in for the purpose of selling or distributing tobacco products in this state.
(e) "Cigar" means a roll for smoking that is of any size or shape and that is made wholly or in part of tobacco, irrespective of whether the tobacco is pure or flavored, adulterated or mixed with any other ingredient, if the roll has a wrapper made wholly or in greater part of tobacco. "Cigar" does not include a cigarette.
(f) "Cigarette" has the same meaning as in RCW 82.24.010.
(g) "Department" means the department of revenue.
(h) "Distributor" means:
(i) Any person engaged in the business of selling tobacco products in this state who brings, or causes to be brought, into this state from without the state any tobacco products for sale;
(ii) Any person who makes, manufactures, fabricates, or stores tobacco products in this state for sale in this state;
(iii) Any person engaged in the business of selling tobacco products from outside this state who ships or transports tobacco products to retailers in this state, to be sold by those retailers;
(iv) Any person engaged in the business of selling tobacco products in this state who handles for sale any tobacco products that are within this state but upon which tax has not been imposed. RCW 82.26.010 (3)(a) through (d). (For example, Sunshine Tobacco Shop ("Sunshine") buys cigars from an out-of-state manufacturer for resale to consumers in this state. The cigars are shipped to Sunshine via common carrier. In this instance, Sunshine is a distributor, must have both a tobacco distributor license and a tobacco products retailer license, and must pay the tobacco products tax on the products it brings into the state. However, if Sunshine bought its merchandise exclusively from in-state distributors that have paid the tobacco products tax on that merchandise, Sunshine would not be considered a distributor, and would need only a tobacco products retailer license.)
(i) "Indian," "Indian country," and "Indian tribe" have the same meaning as defined in chapter 82.24 RCW and WAC 458-20-192.
(j) "Indian distributor" means a federally recognized Indian tribe or tribal entity that would otherwise meet the definition of distributor under RCW 82.26.010, if federally recognized Indian tribes and tribal entities were not excluded from the definition of "person" in RCW 82.26.010.
(k) "Indian retailer" means a federally recognized Indian tribe or tribal entity that would otherwise meet the definition of retailer under RCW 82.26.010, if federally recognized Indian tribes and tribal entities were not excluded from the definition of "person" in RCW 82.26.010.
(l) "Indian tribal organization" means a federally recognized Indian tribe, or tribal entity, and includes an Indian distributor or retailer that is owned by an Indian who is an enrolled tribal member conducting business under tribal license or similar tribal approval within Indian country.
(m) "Little cigar" means a cigar that has a cellulose acetate integrated filter.
(n) "Manufacture" means the production, assembly, or creation of new tobacco products. For the purposes of this rule, "manufacture" does not necessarily have the same meaning as provided in RCW 82.04.120.
(o) "Manufacturer" means a person who manufactures and sells tobacco products.
(p) "Manufacturer's representative" means a person hired by a manufacturer to sell or distribute the manufacturer's tobacco products, and includes employees and independent contractors.
(q) "Moist snuff" means tobacco that is finely cut, ground, or powdered; is not for smoking; and is intended to be placed in the oral, but not the nasal, cavity.
(r) "Person" means any individual, receiver, administrator, executor, assignee, trustee in bankruptcy, trust, estate, firm, copartnership, joint venture, club, company, joint stock company, business trust, municipal corporation, the state and its departments and institutions, political subdivision of the state of Washington, corporation, limited liability company, association, society, any group of individuals acting as a unit, whether mutual, cooperative, fraternal, nonprofit, or otherwise. The term excludes any person immune from state taxation, including the United States or its instrumentalities, and federally recognized Indian tribes and enrolled tribal members, conducting business within Indian country.
(s) "Place of business" means any place where tobacco products are sold or where tobacco products are manufactured, stored, or kept for the purpose of sale, including any vessel, vehicle, airplane, train, or vending machine.
(t) "Retailer" means any person engaged in the business of selling tobacco products to ultimate consumers.
(u) "Retail outlet" means each place of business from which tobacco products are sold to consumers.
(v) "Sale" means:
(i) Any transfer, exchange, or barter, in any manner or by any means whatsoever, for a consideration, and includes and means all sales made by any person.
(ii) The term "sale" includes a gift by a person engaged in the business of selling tobacco products, for advertising, promoting, or as a means of evading the provisions of this chapter.
(w) "Store," "stores," or "storing" means the holding of tobacco products for later sale or delivery inside or outside this state. For example:
(i) Wilderness Enterprises ships products from out-of-state to its Kent warehouse. All products are intended for future sale to Alaska. Wilderness Enterprises is a distributor that stores tobacco products in this state. Wilderness Enterprises is liable for tobacco products tax on the products stored in this state. (However, see subsection (501)(a) of this rule for credits that may be available to Wilderness Enterprises for out-of-state sales.)
(ii) Cooper Enterprises brings tobacco products into this state for sale. It rents storage space from a third party, Easy Storage. Cooper Enterprises (the distributor), not Easy Storage, is responsible for the tax and reporting requirements on the stored tobacco products.
(x) "Taxable sales price" means:
(i) In the case of a taxpayer that is not affiliated with the manufacturer, distributor, or other person from whom the taxpayer purchased tobacco products, the actual price for which the taxpayer purchased the tobacco products. For purposes of this subsection, "person" includes both persons as defined in (r) of this subsection and any person immune from state taxation, including the United States or its instrumentalities, and federally recognized Indian tribes and enrolled tribal members, conducting business within Indian country;
(ii) In the case of a taxpayer that purchases tobacco products from an affiliated manufacturer, affiliated distributor, or other affiliated person, and that sells those tobacco products to unaffiliated distributors, unaffiliated retailers, or ultimate consumers, the actual price for which that taxpayer sells those tobacco products to unaffiliated distributors, unaffiliated retailers, or ultimate consumers. For purposes of this subsection, "person" includes both persons as defined in (r) of this subsection and any person immune from state taxation, including the United States or its instrumentalities, and federally recognized Indian tribes and enrolled tribal members, conducting business within Indian country;
(iii) In the case of a taxpayer that sells tobacco products only to affiliated distributors or affiliated retailers, the price, determined as nearly as possible according to the actual price for which other distributors sell similar tobacco products of like quality and character to unaffiliated distributors, unaffiliated retailers, or ultimate consumers;
(iv) In the case of a taxpayer that is a manufacturer selling tobacco products directly to ultimate consumers, the actual price for which the taxpayer sells those tobacco products to ultimate consumers;
(v) In the case of a taxpayer that has acquired tobacco products under a sale as defined in (v)(ii) of this subsection, the price, determined as nearly as possible according to the actual price for which the taxpayer or other distributors sell the same tobacco products or similar tobacco products of like quality and character to unaffiliated distributors, unaffiliated retailers, or ultimate consumers; or
(vi) In any case where (x)(i) through (v) of this subsection do not apply, the price, determined as nearly as possible according to the actual price for which the taxpayer or other distributors sell the same tobacco products or similar tobacco products of like quality and character to unaffiliated distributors, unaffiliated retailers, or ultimate consumers.
(y) "Taxpayer" means a person liable for the tax imposed by chapter 82.26 RCW.
(z) "Tobacco products" means cigars, cheroots, stogies, periques, granulated, plug cut, crimp cut, ready rubbed, and other smoking tobacco, snuff, snuff flour, cavendish, plug and twist tobacco, fine-cut and other chewing tobaccos, shorts, refuse scraps, clippings, cuttings and sweepings of tobacco, and other kinds and forms of tobacco, prepared in such manner as to be suitable for chewing or smoking in a pipe or otherwise, or both for chewing and smoking, and any other product, regardless of form, that contains tobacco and is intended for human consumption or placement in the oral or nasal cavity or absorption into the human body by any other means, but does not include cigarettes as defined in RCW 82.24.010.
(aa) "Unaffiliated distributor" means a distributor that is not affiliated with the manufacturer, distributor, or other person from whom the distributor has purchased tobacco products.
(bb) "Unaffiliated retailer" means a retailer that is not affiliated with the manufacturer, distributor, or other person from whom the retailer has purchased tobacco products.
(102) Imposition of tax. The tobacco tax is imposed upon the sale, handling, or distribution of all tobacco products in this state. Taxes are imposed at the time the distributor (a) brings, or causes to be brought, into this state from without the state tobacco products for sale; (b) makes, manufactures, fabricates, or stores tobacco products in this state for sale in this state; (c) ships or transports tobacco products to retailers in this state, to be sold by those retailers; or (d) handles for sale any tobacco products that are within this state but upon which tax has not been imposed. RCW 82.26.020(2). The distributor who first possesses the tobacco product for sale in this state is the distributor liable for the tax. RCW 82.26.030.
Examples. The following examples, while not exhaustive, illustrate some of the circumstances in which the tax is imposed. These examples should be used only as a general guide. The status of each situation must be determined after a review of all of the facts and circumstances.
(a) BET Distributors sells and ships tobacco products from Kentucky via common carrier to Surprise Enterprises in Washington. The tax is due from Surprise Enterprises, a licensed distributor, because it is the first possessor in Washington that holds the product for sale. However, BET Distributors must give the board notice of its intent to ship tobacco products into this state.
(b) BET Distributors sells and ships tobacco products in its own trucks from Kentucky to Jamie's Enterprises, a licensed distributor in Washington. The tax is due from BET Distributors, because it is the first possessor in Washington that holds the product for sale.
(c) Garden State Cigars is located in New Jersey. It ships its products to Washington retailers via common carrier. The retailers must be licensed as distributors and are liable for the tax. However, Garden State Cigars must give the board notice of its intent to ship tobacco products into this state.
(d) An Indian retailer located in Indian Country in Washington State sells tobacco products to Washington retailers who pick up the products in Indian Country and take it back to their retail outlets. The Washington retailers must be licensed as distributors and are liable for the tax. The Indian retailer is not required to hold a state tobacco products retailer or distributor license. State-licensed distributors making retail sales to Indian retailers may claim a credit against the tax under RCW 82.26.110.
(103) Rates. The rate of the Washington state tobacco tax depends upon the tobacco product sold (cigars, other tobacco products, moist snuff, or little cigars) and is found in RCW 82.26.020.
(104) Promotions. Tobacco products sold, provided at a reduced cost, or given away for advertising or any other purpose are taxed in the same manner as if they were sold, used, consumed, handled, possessed, or distributed in this state. RCW 82.26.010 (18)(b).
Part II - Wholesale and Retail Tobacco Products Vendor Licensing Requirements and Responsibilities
(201) License required. No person may engage in the retail or wholesale distribution of tobacco products in this state without a license, except for any person immune from state taxation, including federally recognized Indian tribes and enrolled tribal members, conducting business within Indian country, and the United States or its instrumentalities.
(202) Tobacco distributor license. Prior to selling or distributing tobacco products from a stock of goods in Washington or to retailers in Washington, each distributor must first obtain a tobacco distributor license from the department through its business licensing service.
(a) Background check. Each distributor must undergo a criminal background check by the board before a license will be issued. RCW 82.26.150(3). See chapter 314-33 WAC for board standards. Failure to provide information sufficient to complete the background check may result in denial of the license.
(b) Application. Application for a license or renewal of a license is made on forms supplied by the department and must be accompanied by the annual license fee as provided in chapter 82.26 RCW. A tobacco distributor license is valid for one year from the date it is issued. The annual license fee is waived if the licensee has applied for or already has a cigarette wholesaler license.
(c) Multiple locations. If the distributor sells, intends to sell, or stores tobacco products at more than one place of business, whether temporary or permanent, a separate license with a license fee as provided in chapter 82.26 RCW is required for each additional place of business. Each license must be exhibited in the place of business for which it is issued.
(203) Duties and responsibilities of licensed distributors.
(a) Sales restricted. Distributors selling tobacco products in this state may sell tobacco products only to Washington retailers or distributors who have a current tobacco license, to other licensed distributors, the federal government or its instrumentalities, or to Indian tribal organizations.
(b) Manufacturer's representatives. Manufacturers selling tobacco products through manufacturer's representatives must provide the board a current list of the names and addresses of all such representatives and must ensure that the list provided to the board is kept current. RCW 82.26.210.
(204) Tobacco products retailer license. Prior to the retail sale or distribution of tobacco products, each retailer must first be issued a tobacco products retailer license from the department through its business licensing service.
(a) Background check. Each retailer must undergo a criminal background check by the board before a license will be issued. RCW 82.26.150(3). See chapter 314-33 WAC for board standards. Failure to provide information sufficient to complete the background check may result in denial of the license.
(b) Application. Application for a license or renewal of a license is made on forms supplied by the department and must be accompanied by the annual license fee as provided in chapter 82.26 RCW. A tobacco products retailer license is valid for one year from the date it is issued. The annual license fee is waived if the licensee has already applied for or already has a cigarette retailer license at the same business location.
(c) Multiple locations. If the retailer sells tobacco products at more than one place of business, whether temporary or permanent, a separate license with a license fee as provided in chapter 82.26 RCW is required for each additional place of business. Each license must be exhibited in the place of business for which it is issued.
(205) Duties and responsibilities of retailers. A retailer that obtains tobacco products from an unlicensed distributor or any other person that is not licensed under this chapter must be licensed both as a retailer and a distributor and is liable for the tax imposed under RCW 82.26.020 with respect to the tobacco products acquired from the unlicensed person that are held for sale, handling, or distribution in this state. For example, if a retailer buys tobacco products from an Indian retailer or an out-of-state wholesaler who does not have a tobacco distributor license, the retailer must obtain a distributor license and pay the tobacco tax due. An Indian retailer in Indian country is not required to hold a state tobacco products retailer or distributor license.
(206) Licensing enforcement. The board assumed the licensing enforcement responsibilities for tobacco products on July 1, 2009. See chapters 314-33 and 314-34 WAC for the board's enforcement provisions on tobacco products.
Part III - Transporting Tobacco Products in Washington
(301) Transportation of tobacco products restricted.
(a) Other than as provided in (b) of this subsection, only licensed distributors or retailers in their own vehicles, or manufacturer's representatives authorized to sell or distribute tobacco products in this state, can transport tobacco products in this state. Individuals transporting the product must have a copy of a valid retailer's or distributor's license in their possession and evidence that they are representatives of the licensees. Individuals transporting tobacco products for sale must also have in their possession invoices or delivery tickets for the tobacco products that show the name and address of the consignor or seller, the name and address of the consignee or purchaser, and the quantity and brands of the tobacco products being transported. It is the duty of the distributor, retailer, or manufacturer responsible for the delivery or transportation of the tobacco products to ensure that all drivers, agents, representatives, or employees have the delivery tickets or invoices in their possession for all such shipments.
(b) All other persons must give notice to the board in advance of transporting or causing tobacco products to be transported in this state for sale. This includes those transporting tobacco products in this state via common carrier. For example: Peg's Primo Cigars (PPC), a small out-of-state distributor, sells tobacco products to retailers in Washington. PPC ships the products via common carrier. Before placing the product in shipment to Washington, PPC must give notice to the board of the pending shipment. The notice must include the name and address of the consignor or seller, the name and address of the consignee or purchaser, the quantity and brands of the tobacco products being transported, and the shipment date.
Part IV - Recordkeeping and Enforcement
(401) Books and records. An accurate set of records showing all transactions related to the purchase, sale, or distribution of tobacco products must be retained. RCW 82.26.060, 82.26.070 and 82.26.080. All records must be preserved for five years from the date of the transaction.
(a) Distributors. Distributors must keep at each place of business complete and accurate records for that place of business. The records to be kept by distributors include itemized invoices of tobacco products held, purchased, manufactured, brought in or caused to be brought in from without the state or shipped or transported to retailers in this state, and of all sales of tobacco products. The itemized invoice for each purchase or sale must be legible and must show the seller's name and address, the purchaser's name and address, the date of sale, and all prices and discounts. Itemized invoices must be preserved for five years from the date of sale.
(b) Retailers. Retailers must secure itemized invoices of all tobacco products purchased. The itemized invoice for each purchase must be legible and must show the seller's name and address, the purchaser's name and address, the date of sale, and all prices and discounts. Itemized invoices must be preserved for five years from the date of sale. Retailers are responsible for the tax on any tobacco products for which they do not have invoices.
(402) Reports and returns. The department may require any person dealing in tobacco products in this state to complete and return forms, as furnished by the department, setting forth sales, inventory, shipments, and other data required by the department to maintain control over trade in tobacco.
(a) Tax returns. The tax is reported on the combined excise tax return that must be filed according to the reporting frequency assigned by the department. Detailed instructions for preparation of these returns may be obtained from the department.
(b) Reports.
(i) Retailers and distributors of tobacco products may be required to file a report with the department in compliance with the provisions of the National Uniform Tobacco Settlement when purchasing tobacco products (e.g., "roll your own tobacco") from certain manufacturers. See WAC 458-20-264 and chapter 70.157 RCW.
(ii) A person who sells, transfers, or ships for profit smokeless tobacco (as such term is defined in 15 U.S.C. Sec. 375) in interstate commerce, whereby such smokeless tobacco is shipped into Washington, or who advertises or offers such smokeless tobacco for sale, transfer, or shipment in this state, must file a report as required under 15 U.S.C. Sec. 376. This report is due no later than the tenth day of each calendar month and must include a memorandum or invoice covering all transactions and shipments of smokeless tobacco made into Washington during the previous calendar month.
(c) Access to premises and records. Retailers and distributors must allow department personnel free access to their premises to inspect the tobacco products on the premises and to examine the books and records for the business. For further details, see subsection (405) of this section.
(403) Criminal provisions. Chapter 82.26 RCW prohibits certain activities with respect to tobacco products. Persons handling tobacco within this state must refer to these statutes.
(404) Search, seizure, and forfeiture. Any tobacco products in the possession of a person selling tobacco in this state without a license or transporting tobacco products without the proper invoices or delivery tickets may be seized without a warrant by any agent of the department, agent of the board, or law enforcement officer of this state. In addition, all conveyances, including aircraft, vehicles, or vessels used to transport the illegal tobacco product may be seized and forfeited.
(405) Enforcement. Pursuant to RCW 82.26.121 and 66.44.010, enforcement officers of the board may enforce all provisions of the law with respect to the tax on tobacco products. Retailers and distributors must allow department personnel and enforcement officers of the board free access to their premises to inspect the tobacco products on the premises and to examine the books and records of the business. If a retailer fails to allow free access, or hinders, or interferes with department personnel and/or enforcement officers of the board, that retailer's registration certificate issued under RCW 82.32.030 is subject to revocation. Additionally, any licenses issued under chapter 82.26 or 82.24 RCW are subject to suspension or revocation by the department or board.
(406) Penalties. Penalties and interest may be assessed in accordance with chapter 82.32 RCW for nonpayment of tobacco tax.
Part V - Credits
(501) Credits.
(a) Interstate and foreign sales. A credit is available to distributors for tobacco products sold to retailers and wholesalers outside the state for resale. This credit may be taken only for the amount of tobacco products tax reported and previously paid on such products. RCW 82.26.110. No credit may be taken for a sale of tobacco products from a stock of goods in this state to a consumer outside the state.
(b) Returned or destroyed goods. A credit may be taken for tax previously paid when tobacco products are destroyed or returned to the manufacturer. Credits claimed against tax owed or as a refund of tax paid, must be supported by documentation.
(c) Sales to the United States. A credit is available to distributors for tobacco products sold to the United States or any of its agencies or instrumentalities.
(d) Sales to Indian tribal organizations. A credit is available to distributors for tobacco products sold to any Indian tribal organization.
(e) Documentation. Credits claimed against tax owed or as a refund of tax paid, must be supported by documentation. The department provides two documents to assist taxpayers in determining the amount of credits available – The Tobacco Products Tax Credit Worksheet and Claim for Credit of Tobacco Product Tax. See the department's web site (dor.wa.gov) for more information.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300, 82.01.060(2), 82.24.550(2), and 82.26.220(2). WSR 15-01-107, § 458-20-185, filed 12/18/14, effective 1/18/15. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300 and 82.01.060(2). WSR 10-10-032, § 458-20-185, filed 4/26/10, effective 5/27/10; WSR 07-04-119, § 458-20-185, filed 2/7/07, effective 3/10/07; WSR 03-12-058, § 458-20-185, filed 6/2/03, effective 7/3/03. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300. WSR 94-10-061, § 458-20-185, filed 5/3/94, effective 6/3/94; WSR 90-04-038, § 458-20-185, filed 1/31/90, effective 3/3/90; WSR 83-07-032 (Order ET 83-15), § 458-20-185, filed 3/15/83; Order ET 71-1, § 458-20-185, filed 7/22/71; Order ET 70-3, § 458-20-185 (Rule 185), filed 5/29/70, effective 7/1/70.]