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458-20-189  <<  458-20-190 >>   458-20-192

WAC 458-20-190

Agency filings affecting this section

Sales to and by the United StatesDoing business on federal reservationsSales to foreign governments.

(1) Introduction. Federal law prohibits Washington from directly imposing taxes upon the United States. Persons doing business with the United States are nonetheless subject to the taxes imposed by the state of Washington, unless specifically exempt. This rule explains the tax reporting responsibilities of persons making sales to the United States and to foreign governments. The rule also explains the tax reporting responsibilities of persons engaging in business activities within federal reservations and cleaning up radioactive waste and other by-products of weapons production for the United States.
Persons engaged in construction, installation, or improvement to real property of or for the United States should also refer to WAC 458-20-17001 (Government contracting, etc.). Persons building, repairing, or improving streets, roads, and other transportation facilities, which are owned by the United States should also refer to WAC 458-20-171 (Building, repairing or improving streets, roads, etc.). Persons selling cigarettes to the United States or any other federal entity should also refer to WAC 458-20-186 (Tax on cigarettes).
(2) "United States" defined.
(a) For the purposes of this rule, the term "United States" means the federal government, including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, its departments, and federal entities exempt from state or local taxation by reason of specific federal statutory exemption.
The mere fact that an entity is a federal entity, such as an instrumentality or a federal corporation, does not mean that the entity is immune from tax. The taxability of a federal entity and whether or not the entity is required to collect and remit retail sales/use tax depends on the benefits and immunities conferred upon it by Congress. Thus, to determine the current taxable status of federal entities, the relevant portion of the federal law should be examined.
(b) "United States" does not include entities associated with but not a part of the United States, such as the National Guard (an instrumentality of the state of Washington). Nor does it include entities contracting with the United States government to administer its programs.
(3) Prohibition against taxing the United States. The state of Washington is prohibited from imposing taxes directly upon the United States.
(a) This prohibition applies to taxes imposed for the privilege of engaging in business such as the business and occupation (chapter 82.04 RCW) and the public utility (chapter 82.16 RCW) taxes.
It also applies to taxes imposed on a buyer or user of goods or services, including, but not limited to, the:
(i) State and local retail sales and car rental taxes (chapters 82.08 and 82.14 RCW);
(ii) State and local use tax (chapters 82.12 and 82.14 RCW);
(iii) Solid waste collection tax (chapter 82.18 RCW); and
(iv) Local government taxes such as the special hotel/motel (chapter 67.28 RCW) and convention and trade center (chapter 67.40 RCW) taxes.
(b) The state is also prohibited from requiring the United States to collect taxes imposed on the buyer (e.g., the retail sales tax) as an agent for the state. However, buyers must pay use tax on retail purchases from the United States, unless specifically exempt by law.
(c) In addition, federal law exempts certain nongovernmental entities from state taxes (for which Congress has given specific federal statutory tax exemptions). These specific federal statutory exemptions given by Congress may not be absolute and may be limited to specific activities of an entity.
(d) The American Red Cross is an instrumentality of the United States. As a federal corporation providing aid and relief, it is exempt from retail sales, use, and business and occupation taxes under state law. RCW 82.08.0258, 82.12.0259, and 82.04.380.
(4) Persons doing business with the United States. Persons selling goods or services to the United States are subject to taxes imposed on the seller, such as the business and occupation (B&O) and public utility taxes, unless a specific tax exemption applies. Persons receiving income from contracting with the United States government to administer its programs, either in whole or in part, are also subject to tax, unless a specific tax exemption applies.
(a) Certain invoiced amounts not included in gross income. Persons who contract with the United States may, for federal accounting purposes, be contractually required to invoice goods or services provided to the United States by third parties. The purpose of the invoices is to match the expenditures with the appropriate category of congressional funding. These amounts should be excluded from the person's gross income when reporting on the combined excise tax return if all of the following conditions exist with respect to the goods or services:
(i) The third party directly invoices the United States;
(ii) The United States directly pays the third party; and
(iii) The person has no liability, either primarily or secondarily, for making payment to the third party or for remitting payment to the third party.
(b) Tax obligation with respect to the use of tangible personal property. Persons performing services for the United States are also subject to the retail sales or use tax on property they use or consume when performing services for the United States, unless specifically exempt.
(i) Manufacturing articles for commercial or industrial use. In the case of products manufactured or produced by the person using the products as a consumer, the measure of the use tax is generally the value of the products as explained in WAC 458-20-112 (Value of products). However, if the articles manufactured or produced by the user are used in the manufacture or production of products sold or to be sold to the department of defense of the United States, the value of articles used is the value of the ingredients of such articles. The manufacturing B&O tax also applies to the value of articles manufactured for commercial or industrial use.
(ii) Use of government provided property. When articles or goods used are acquired by bailment, the measure of the use tax to the bailee is the reasonable rental with the value to be determined as nearly as possible according to the rental price at the place of use of similar products of like quality and character. See WAC 458-20-211 (Leases or rental of tangible personal property, bailments). Thus, if a person has a contract to provide services for the United States and uses government supplied tangible personal property to perform the services, then the person must pay use tax on the fair market rental value of the government supplied tangible personal property.
Persons who incorporate government provided articles into construction projects or improvements made to real property of or for the United States should refer to WAC 458-20-17001 (Government contracting, etc.) for more specific tax-reporting information.
(c) Exemption for certain machinery and equipment. Manufacturers or processors for hire may be eligible for the retail sales or use tax exemption provided by RCW 82.08.02565 and 82.12.02565 on machinery and equipment used directly in a manufacturing or research and development operation. See WAC 458-20-13601 (Manufacturers and processor for hireSales and use tax exemption for machinery and equipment).
(5) Documenting exempt sales to the United States. Only those sales made directly to the United States are exempt from retail sales tax or other tax imposed on the buyer. To be entitled to the exemption, the purchase must be paid for using a qualified U.S. government credit card, a check from the United States payable to the seller, a United States voucher, or with cash accompanied by the federal SF (Standard Form) 1165.
Sales to employees or representatives of the United States are subject to tax, even though the United States may reimburse the employee or representative for all or a part of the expense. Purchases by any other person, whether with federal funds or through a reimbursement arrangement, are subject to tax unless specifically exempt by law.
(a) Documenting tax-exempt sales. Sellers document the tax-exempt nature of sales made to the United States by keeping a copy of the United States credit card receipt, a copy of the check from the United States, a copy of the federal government voucher, or a signed copy of federal SF 1165.
(b) Payment occurring via government contracted credit card. Various United States government contracted credit cards are used to make payment for purchases of goods and services by or for the United States government. Sole responsibility for payment of these purchases may rest with the United States government or with the employee. The United States government's system of issuing government contracted credit cards is subject to change. For specific information about determining when payment is the direct responsibility of the United States government or the employee, contact the department's taxpayer services division at:
Department of Revenue
Taxpayer Services
P.O. Box 47478
Olympia, WA 98504-7478
or call the department's telephone information center at 1- 800-647-7706 or visit the department's web site at http://dor.wa.gov.
(6) Doing business on federal reservations. The state of Washington has jurisdiction and authority to levy and collect taxes upon persons residing within, or with respect to business transactions conducted upon, federal reservations. 4 U.S.C. §§ 105-110. The term "federal reservation," as used in this rule, means any land or premises within the exterior boundaries of the state of Washington that are held or acquired by and for the use of the United States, its departments, institutions or entities. This means that a concessionaire operating within a federal reservation under a grant or permit issued by the United States or by a department or entity of the United States is taxable to the same extent as any private operator engaging in a similar business outside a federal reservation and without specific authority from the United States.
(a) Sales tax collection requirements. Persons making retail sales to members of the armed forces or others residing within or conducting business upon federal reservations are required to collect and remit retail sales tax from the buyer.
(b) Cigarette tax stamps. Washington cigarette tax stamps must generally be affixed to all cigarettes sold to persons residing within or conducting business upon federal reservations. However, such stamps need not be affixed to cigarettes sold to the United States or any of its entities including voluntary organizations of military personnel authorized by the Secretary of Defense or the Secretary of the Navy or by the United States or any of its entities to authorized purchasers, for use on such reservation. See WAC 458-20-186 (Tax on cigarettes).
(7) Sales made to authorized purchasers of the United States. As explained in subsection (3)(b) of this rule, while sales by the United States are exempt of retail sales tax the purchaser is generally responsible for remitting use tax directly to the department of revenue. Federal law prohibits the imposition of use tax on tangible personal property sold to authorized purchasers by the United States, its entities, or voluntary unincorporated organization of armed forces personnel. 4 U.S.C. § 107(a).
(a) Who is an "authorized purchaser"? A person is an "authorized purchaser" only with respect to purchases he or she is permitted to make from commissaries, ships' stores, or voluntary unincorporated organizations of personnel of any branch of the armed forces of the United States, under regulations promulgated by the departmental secretary having jurisdiction over such branch. 4 U.S.C. § 107(b).
(b) What is a "voluntary unincorporated organization"? "Voluntary unincorporated organizations" are those organizations comprised of armed forces personnel operated under regulations promulgated by the departmental secretary having jurisdiction over such branch. Examples of voluntary unincorporated organizations are post flying clubs, officers or noncommissioned officers open messes, and recreation associations.
(8) Purchases by persons using federal funds. Retail sales or use tax is applicable to retail purchases made by any buyer, other than the United States, including the state of Washington and all of its political subdivisions, irrespective of whether or not the buyer uses or is reimbursed with federal funds.
(9) Cleaning up radioactive waste and other by-products of weapons production and nuclear research and development. RCW 82.04.263 provides a preferential tax rate for the gross income derived from cleaning up for the United States, or its instrumentalities, radioactive waste and other by-products of weapons production and nuclear research and development. This tax rate applies whether the person performing these activities is a general contractor or subcontractor.
(a) What activities are entitled to the preferential tax rate? Only those activities that meet the definition of "cleaning up radioactive waste and other by-products of weapons production and nuclear research and development" are entitled to the preferential tax rate. The statute defines "cleaning up radioactive waste and other by-products of weapons production and nuclear research and development" to mean:
(i) The handling, storing, treating, immobilizing, stabilizing, or disposing of radioactive waste, radioactive tank waste and capsules, nonradioactive hazardous solid and liquid wastes, or spent nuclear fuel;
(ii) Conditioning of spent nuclear fuel;
(iii) Removing contamination in soils and groundwater;
(iv) Decontaminating and decommissioning of facilities; and
(v) Services supporting the performance of cleanup. A service supports the performance of cleanup if it:
(A) Is within the scope of work under a clean-up contract with the United Stated Department of Energy; or
(B) Assists in the accomplishment of a requirement of a clean-up project undertaken by the United States Department of Energy under a subcontract entered into with the prime contractor or another subcontractor in furtherance of a clean-up contract between the United States Department of Energy and a prime contractor.
(b) When does a service not assist in the accomplishment of a requirement of a clean-up project? Subject to specific exceptions provided by law, a service does not assist in the accomplishment of a clean-up project when the same services are routinely provided to businesses not engaged in clean-up activities.
The following exceptions are always deemed to contribute to the accomplishment of a requirement of a clean-up project undertaken by the United States Department of Energy:
• Information technology and computer support services;
• Services rendered in respect to infrastructure; and
• Security, safety, and health services.
(c) Guideline examples. The following examples are to be used as a guideline when determining whether a service is "routinely provided to businesses not engaged in clean-up activities."
(i) Accounting services. The classification does not apply to general accounting services but does apply to performance audits performed for persons cleaning up radioactive waste.
(ii) Legal services. The classification does not apply to general legal services but does apply to those legal services that assist in the accomplishment of a requirement of a clean-up project undertaken by the United States Department of Energy. Thus, legal services provided to contest any local, state, or federal tax liability or to defend a company against worker's compensation claim arising from a worksite injury do not qualify for the classification. However, legal services related to the resolution of contractual dispute between the parties to a clean-up contract between the United States Department of Energy and a prime contractor do qualify.
(iii) General office janitorial. General office janitorial services do not qualify for the radioactive waste clean-up classification, but the specialized cleaning of equipment exposed to radioactive waste does qualify.
(d) Clean-up examples. The examples in this subsection identify a number of facts and then state a conclusion. These examples should only be used as a general guide. Similar determinations for other situations can be made only after a review of all facts and circumstances.
(i) Company C is a land excavation contractor who contracts with Prime Contractor to dig trenches where waste will be reburied after processing. Company C's contract for digging trenches qualifies for the preferential tax rate under RCW 82.04.263 because the activity of digging trenches is one of the physical acts of cleaning up.
(ii) Company D contracts with Company C from the previous example to provide payroll and accounting services. Company D's activity does not qualify for the preferential tax rate under RCW 82.04.263 because the activity of general accounting is not an activity involving the physical act of cleaning up, nor is it a service supporting the performance of cleanup as defined in (a)(v) of this subsection.
(iii) Company E is an environmental engineering company which contracts with Prime Contractor to develop a plan on how best to decontaminate the soil at a tank farm and will monitor the cleanup/decontamination as it progresses. Company E's activities qualify for the preferential tax rate under RCW 82.04.263 because the activities are services supporting the performance of cleanup.
(iv) Company F is a security company that contracts with Prime Contractor to provide overall security to the federal reservation, including providing security at clean-up sites. Security services at clean-up sites are services that support the performance of cleanup.
(e) Taxability of tangible personal property used or consumed in cleaning up radioactive waste and other by-products of weapons production and nuclear research and development. Persons cleaning up radioactive waste and other by-products of weapons production and nuclear research and development for the United States, or its instrumentalities, are consumers of any property they use or consume when performing these services. RCW 82.04.190. Therefore, tangible personal property used or consumed in the cleanup is subject to retail sales or use tax. If the seller does not collect retail sales tax on a retail sale, the buyer is required to pay the retail sales tax (commonly referred to as "deferred sales tax") or use tax directly to the department, unless specifically exempt by law. The "combined excise tax return" does not have a separate line for reporting deferred sales tax. Consequently, deferred sales tax liability should be reported on the use tax line of the buyer's combined excise tax return. Refer to WAC 458-20-178 for detailed information regarding use tax.
(10) Sales to foreign governments or foreign diplomats. For specific details concerning the taxability of sales of goods and services to foreign missions and diplomats, contact the department's taxpayer services division at:
Department of Revenue
Taxpayer Services
P.O. Box 47478
Olympia, WA 98504-7478
or call the department's telephone information center at 1- 800-647-7706 or visit the department's web site at http://dor.wa.gov.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300 and 82.01.060(2). WSR 10-10-030, § 458-20-190, filed 4/26/10, effective 5/27/10. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300, 82.01.060(1), and 34.05.230. WSR 05-03-002, § 458-20-190, filed 1/5/05, effective 2/5/05. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300. WSR 83-07-033 (Order ET 83-16), § 458-20-190, filed 3/15/83; Order ET 75-1, § 458-20-190, filed 5/2/75; Order ET 70-3, § 458-20-190 (Rule 190), filed 5/29/70, effective 7/1/70.]