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WAC 458-20-24003

Agency filings affecting this section

Tax incentives for high technology businesses.

(1) Introduction. This section explains the tax incentives, contained in chapter 82.63 RCW and RCW 82.04.4452, which apply to businesses engaged in research and development or pilot scale manufacturing in Washington in five high technology areas: Advanced computing, advanced materials, biotechnology, electronic device technology, and environmental technology. Eligibility for high technology or research and development tax incentives offered by the federal government or any other jurisdiction does not establish eligibility for Washington's programs.
This section 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 in all situations must be determined after a review of all facts and circumstances. Assume all the examples below occur on or after June 10, 2004, unless otherwise indicated.
(2) Organization of the section. The information provided in this section is divided into three parts.
(a) Part I provides information on the sales and use tax deferral program under chapter 82.63 RCW.
(b) Part II provides information on the sales and use tax exemption available for persons engaged in certain construction activities for the federal government under RCW 82.04.190(6).
(c) Part III provides information on the business and occupation tax credit on research and developing spending under RCW 82.04.4452.
PART I
SALES AND USE TAX DEFERRAL PROGRAM
(3) Who is eligible for the sales and use tax deferral program? A person engaged in qualified research and development or pilot scale manufacturing in Washington in the five high technologies areas is eligible for this deferral program for its eligible investment project.
(a) What does the term "person" mean for purposes of this deferral program? "Person" has the meaning given in RCW 82.04.030. Effective June 10, 2004, "person" also includes state universities as defined in RCW 28B.10.016. "Person" can be either a lessee or a lessor, who can apply separately for individual investment projects at the same site, if they comply with the other requirements of chapter 82.63 RCW.
(i) Effective June 10, 2004, the lessor or owner of the qualified building is not eligible for a deferral unless:
(A) The underlying ownership of the buildings, machinery, and equipment vests exclusively in the same person; or
(B) All of the following conditions are met:
(I) The lessor by written contract agrees to pass the economic benefit of the deferral to the lessee;
(II) The lessee that receives the economic benefit of the deferral agrees in writing with the department to complete the annual survey required under RCW 82.63.020(2);
(III) The lessee must receive an economic benefit from the lessor no less than the amount of tax deferred by the lessor; and
(IV) Upon request, the lessor must provide the department with written documentation to support the eligibility of the deferral, including any type of payment, credit, or other financial arrangement between the lessor or owner of the qualified building and the lessee.
For example, economic benefit of the deferral is passed through to the lessee when evidenced by written documentation that the amounts paid to the lessor for construction of tenant improvements are reduced by the amount of the sales tax deferred, or that the lessee receives more tenant improvements through a credit for tenant improvements or other mechanism in the lease equal to the amount of the sales tax deferred.
(ii) Prior to June 10, 2004, the lessor or owner of the qualified building is not eligible for a deferral unless the underlying ownership of the buildings, machinery, and equipment vests exclusively in the same person, or unless the lessor by written contract agrees to pass the economic benefit of the deferral to the lessee in the form of reduced rent payments.
(iii) The lessor of the qualified building who receives a letter of intent from a qualifying lessee may be eligible for deferral, assuming that all other requirements of chapter 82.63 RCW are met. At the time of application, the lessor must provide to the department a letter of intent by the lessee to lease the qualified building and any other information to prove that the lessee will engage in qualified research and development or pilot scale manufacturing once the building construction is complete. After the investment project is certified as operationally complete, the lessee must actually occupy the building as a lessee and engage in qualified research and development or pilot scale manufacturing. Otherwise, deferred taxes will be immediately due to the lessor, and interest will be assessed retroactively from the date of deferral.
(b) What is "qualified research and development" for purposes of this section? "Qualified research and development" means research and development performed within this state in the fields of advanced computing, advanced materials, biotechnology, electronic device technology, and environmental technology.
(c) What is "research and development" for purposes of this section? "Research and development" means activities performed to discover technological information, and technical and nonroutine activities concerned with translating technological information into new or improved products, processes, techniques, formulas, inventions, or software.
The term includes exploration of a new use for an existing drug, device, or biological product if the new use requires separate licensing by the Federal Food and Drug Administration under chapter 21 C.F.R., as amended.
The term does not include adaptation or duplication of existing products where the products are not substantially improved by application of the technology, nor does the term include surveys and studies, social science and humanities research, market research or testing, quality control, sale promotion and service, computer software developed for internal use, and research in areas such as improved style, taste, and seasonal design.
(i) A person need not both discover technological information and translate technological information into new or improved products, processes, techniques, formulas, inventions, or software in order to engage in research and development. A person may perform either activity alone and be engaged in research and development.
(ii) To discover technological information means to gain knowledge of technological information through purposeful investigation. The knowledge sought must be of something not previously known or, if known, only known by persons who have not made the knowledge available to the public.
(iii) Technological information is information related to the application of science, especially with respect to industrial and commercial objectives. Industrial and commercial objectives include both sale and internal use (other than internal use software). The translation of technological information into new or improved products, processes, techniques, formulas, inventions, or software does not require the use of newly discovered technological information to qualify as research and development.
(iv) The translation of technological information requires both technical and nonroutine activities.
(A) An activity is technical if it involves the application of scientific, engineering, or computer science methods or principles.
(B) An activity is nonroutine if it:
(I) Is undertaken to achieve a new or improved function, performance, reliability, or quality; and
(II) Is performed by engineers, scientists, or other similarly qualified professionals or technicians; and
(III) Involves a process of experimentation designed to evaluate alternatives where the capability or the method of achieving the new or improved function, performance, reliability, or quality, or the appropriate design of the desired improvement, is uncertain at the beginning of the taxpayer's research activities. A process of experimentation must seek to resolve specific uncertainties that are essential to attaining the desired improvement.
(v) A product is substantially improved when it functions fundamentally differently because of the application of technological information. This fundamental difference must be objectively measured. Examples of objective measures include increased value, faster operation, greater reliability, and more efficient performance. It is not necessary for the improvement to be successful for the research to qualify.
(vi) Computer software development may qualify as research and development involving both technical and nonroutine activities concerned with translating technological information into new or improved software, when it includes the following processes: Software concept, software design, software design implementation, conceptual freeze, alpha testing, beta testing, international product localization process, and other processes designed to eliminate uncertainties prior to the release of the software to the market for sale. Research and development ceases when the software is released to the market for sale.
Postrelease software development may meet the definition of research and development under RCW 82.63.010(16), but only if it involves both technical and nonroutine activities concerned with translating technological information into improved software. All facts and circumstances are considered in determining whether postrelease software development meets the definition of research and development.
(vii) Computer software is developed for internal use if it is to be used only by the person by whom it is developed. If it is to be available for sale, lease, or license, it is not developed for internal use, even though it may have some internal applications. If it is to be available for use by persons, other than the person by whom it is developed, who access or download it remotely, such as through the internet, it is not usually deemed to be developed for internal use. However, remotely accessed software is deemed to be developed for internal use if its purpose is to assist users in obtaining goods, services, or information provided by or through the person by whom the software is developed. For example, software is developed for internal use if it enables or makes easier the ordering of goods from or through the person by whom the software is developed. On the other hand, a search engine used to search the world wide web is an example of software that is not developed for internal use because the search engine itself is the service sought.
(viii) Research and development is complete when the product, process, technique, formula, invention, or software can be reliably reproduced for sale or commercial use. However, the improvement of an existing product, process, technique, formula, invention, or software may qualify as research and development.
(d) What is "pilot scale manufacturing" for purposes of this section? "Pilot scale manufacturing" means design, construction, and testing of preproduction prototypes and models in the fields of biotechnology, advanced computing, electronic device technology, advanced materials, and environmental technology other than for commercial sale. "Commercial sale" excludes sales of prototypes or sales for market testing if the total gross receipts from such sales of the product, service, or process do not exceed one million dollars.
(e) What are the five high technology areas? The five high technology areas are as follows:
(i) Advanced computing. "Advanced computing" means technologies used in the designing and developing of computing hardware and software, including innovations in designing the full spectrum of hardware from hand-held calculators to super computers, and peripheral equipment.
(ii) Advanced materials. "Advanced materials" means materials with engineered properties created through the development of specialized processing and synthesis technology, including ceramics, high value-added metals, electronic materials, composites, polymers, and biomaterials.
(iii) Biotechnology. "Biotechnology" means the application of technologies, such as recombinant DNA techniques, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology, genetics, including genomics, gene expression and genetic engineering, cell fusion techniques, and new bioprocesses, using living organisms, or parts of organisms, to produce or modify products, to improve plants or animals, to develop microorganisms for specific uses, to identify targets for small molecule pharmaceutical development, or to transform biological systems into useful processes and products or to develop microorganisms for specific uses.
(iv) Electronic device technology. "Electronic device technology" means technologies involving microelectronics; semiconductors; electronic equipment and instrumentation; radio frequency, microwave, and millimeter electronics; optical and optic-electrical devices; and data and digital communications and imaging devices.
(v) Environmental technology. "Environmental technology" means assessment and prevention of threats or damage to human health or the environment, environmental cleanup, and the development of alternative energy sources.
(A) The assessment and prevention of threats or damage to human health or the environment concerns assessing and preventing potential or actual releases of pollutants into the environment that are damaging to human health or the environment. It also concerns assessing and preventing other physical alterations of the environment that are damaging to human health or the environment.
For example, a research project related to salmon habitat restoration involving assessment and prevention of threats or damages to the environment may qualify as environmental technology, if such project is concerned with assessing and preventing potential or actual releases of water pollutants and reducing human-made degradation of the environment.
(I) Pollutants include waste materials or by-products from manufacturing or other activities.
(II) Environmental technology includes technology to reduce emissions of harmful pollutants. Reducing emissions of harmful pollutants can be demonstrated by showing the technology is developed to meet governmental emission standards. Environmental technology also includes technology to increase fuel economy, only if the taxpayer can demonstrate that a significant purpose of the project is to increase fuel economy and that such increased fuel economy does in fact significantly reduce harmful emissions. If the project is intended to increase fuel economy only minimally or reduce emissions only minimally, the project does not qualify as environmental technology. A qualifying research project must focus on the individual components that increase fuel economy of the product, not the testing of the entire product when everything is combined, unless the taxpayer can separate out and identify the specific costs associated with such testing.
(III) Environmental technology does not include technology for preventive health measures for, or medical treatment of, human beings.
(IV) Environmental technology does not include technology aimed to reduce impact of natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes.
(V) Environmental technology does not include technology for improving safety of a product.
(B) Environmental cleanup is corrective or remedial action to protect human health or the environment from releases of pollutants into the environment.
(C) Alternative energy sources are those other than traditional energy sources such as fossil fuels, nuclear power, and hydroelectricity. However, when traditional energy sources are used in conjunction with the development of alternative energy sources, all the development will be considered the development of alternative energy sources.
(4) What is eligible for the sales and use tax deferral program? This deferral program applies to an eligible investment project for sales and use taxes imposed on the construction, expansion, or renovation of qualified buildings and acquisition of qualified machinery and equipment.
(a) What is an "eligible investment project" for purposes of this section? "Eligible investment project" means an investment project which either initiates a new operation, or expands or diversifies a current operation by expanding, renovating, or equipping an existing facility.
(b) What is an "investment project" for purposes of this section? "Investment project" means an investment in qualified buildings or qualified machinery and equipment, including labor and services rendered in the planning, installation, and construction or improvement of the project. When an application for sales and use tax deferral is timely submitted, costs incurred before the application date are allowable, if they otherwise qualify.
(c) What is "qualified buildings" for purposes of this section? "Qualified buildings" means construction of new structures, and expansion or renovation of existing structures for the purpose of increasing floor space or production capacity, used for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development.
(i) "Qualified buildings" is limited to structures used for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development. "Qualified buildings" includes plant offices and other facilities that are an essential or an integral part of a structure used for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development.
(A) "Office" means space used by professional, clerical, or administrative staff. For plant office space to be a qualified building, its use must be essential or integral to pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development. An office may be located in a separate building from the building used for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development, but the office must be located at the same site as the qualified building in order to qualify. Each individual office may only qualify or disqualify in its entirety.
(B) A site is one or more immediately adjacent parcels of real property. Adjacent parcels of real property separated only by a public road comprise a single site.
(ii) "Qualified buildings" does not include construction of landscaping or most other work outside the building itself, even though the landscaping or other work outside the building may be required by the city or county government in order for the city or county to issue a permit for the construction of a building.
However, "qualified buildings" includes construction of specialized sewerage pipes connected to a qualified building that are specifically designed and used exclusively for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development.
Also, "qualified buildings" includes construction of parking lots connected to or adjacent to the building if the parking lots are for the use of workers performing pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development in the building. Parking lots may be apportioned based upon its qualifying use.
(d) What is "multiple qualified buildings" for purposes of this section? "Multiple qualified buildings" means "qualified buildings" leased to the same person when such structures:
(i) Are located within a five-mile radius; and
(ii) The initiation of construction of each building begins within a sixty-month period.
(e) When is apportionment of qualified buildings appropriate? The deferral is allowable only in respect to investment in the construction of a new building or the expansion or renovation of an existing building used in pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development. Where a building(s) is used partly for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development and partly for purposes that do not qualify for deferral under this section, apportionment is necessary.
(f) What is the apportionment method? The applicable tax deferral will be determined as follows:
(i) Tax on the cost of construction of areas devoted solely to pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development may be deferred.
(ii) Tax on the cost of construction of areas not used at all for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development may not be deferred.
(iii) Tax on the cost of construction of areas used in common for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development and for other purposes, such as hallways, bathrooms, and conference rooms, may be deferred by apportioning the costs of construction on a square footage basis. The apportioned costs of construction eligible for deferral are established by using the ratio, expressed as a percentage, of the square feet of the construction, expansion, or renovation devoted to pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development, excluding areas used in common to the total square feet of the construction, expansion, or renovation, excluding areas used in common. That percentage is applied to the cost of construction of the common areas to determine the costs of construction eligible for tax deferral. Expressed as a formula, apportionment of the cost of the common areas is determined by:
Square feet devoted to research and development or pilot scale manufacturing, excluding square feet of common areas
=
Percentage of
total cost of
construction of
Total square feet, excluding square feet of common areas
 
common areas
eligible for deferral
(iv) The apportionment method described in (f)(i), (ii), and (iii) of this subsection must be used unless the applicant or recipient can demonstrate that another method better represents a reasonable apportionment of costs, considering all the facts and circumstances. An example is to use the number of employees in a qualified building that is engaged in pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development as the basis for apportionment, if this method is not easily manipulated to reflect a desired outcome, and it otherwise represents a reasonable apportionment of costs under all the facts and circumstances. This method may take into account qualified research and development or pilot scale manufacturing activities that are shifted within a building or from one building to another building. If assistance is needed to a tax-related question specific to your business under this subsection, you may request a tax ruling. To make a request contact the department's taxpayer information and education division at:
Department of Revenue
Taxpayer Information and Education
P.O. Box 47478
Olympia, WA 98504-7478
(v) Example. A building to be constructed will be partially devoted to research and development and partially devoted to marketing, a nonqualifying purpose. The total area of the building is 100,000 square feet. Sixty thousand square feet are used only for research and development, 20,000 square feet are used only for marketing, and the remaining 20,000 square feet are used in common by research and development employees and marketing employees. Tax on the cost of constructing the 60,000 square feet used only for research and development may be deferred. Tax on the cost of constructing the 20,000 square feet used only for marketing may not be deferred. Tax on 75% of the cost of constructing the common areas may be deferred. (Sixty thousand square feet devoted solely to research and development divided by 80,000 square feet devoted solely to research and development and marketing results in a ratio expressed as 75%.)
(g) What is "qualified machinery and equipment" for purposes of this section? "Qualified machinery and equipment" means fixtures, equipment, and support facilities that are an integral and necessary part of a pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development operation. "Qualified machinery and equipment" includes: Computers; software; data processing equipment; laboratory equipment, instrumentation, and other devices used in a process of experimentation to develop a new or improved pilot model, plant process, product, formula, invention, or similar property; manufacturing components such as belts, pulleys, shafts, and moving parts; molds, tools, and dies; vats, tanks, and fermenters; operating structures; and all other equipment used to control, monitor, or operate the machinery. For purposes of this section, qualified machinery and equipment must be either new to the taxing jurisdiction of the state or new to the certificate holder, except that used machinery and equipment may be treated as qualified machinery and equipment if the certificate holder either brings the machinery and equipment into Washington or makes a retail purchase of the machinery and equipment in Washington or elsewhere.
(i) What are "integral" and "necessary"? Machinery and equipment is an integral and necessary part of pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development if the pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development cannot be accomplished without it. For example, a laboratory table is integral and necessary to qualified research and development. Likewise, telephones, computer hardware (e.g., cables, scanners, printers, etc.), and computer software (e.g., Word, Excel, Windows, Adobe, etc.) used in a typical workstation for an R&D personnel are integral and necessary to qualified research and development. Decorative artwork, on the other hand, is not integral and necessary to qualified research and development.
(ii) Must qualified machinery and equipment be used exclusively for qualifying purposes in order to qualify? Qualified machinery and equipment must be used exclusively for pilot scale manufacturing or qualified research and development to qualify for the deferral. Operating system software shared by accounting personnel, for example, is not used exclusively for qualified research and development. However, de minimis nonqualifying use will not cause the loss of the deferral. An example of de minimis use is the occasional use of a computer for personal e-mail.
(iii) Is qualified machinery and equipment subject to apportionment? Unlike buildings, if machinery and equipment is used for both qualifying and nonqualifying purposes, the costs cannot be apportioned. Sales or use tax cannot be deferred on the purchase or use of machinery and equipment used for both qualifying and nonqualifying purposes.
(iv) To what extent is leased equipment eligible for the deferral? In cases of leases of qualifying machinery and equipment, deferral of tax is allowed on payments made during the initial term of the lease, but not for extensions or renewals of the lease. Deferral of tax is not allowed for lease payments for any period after the seventh calendar year following the calendar year for which the project is certified as operationally complete.
(5) What are the application and review processes? Applicants must apply for deferral to the department of revenue before the initiation of construction of, or acquisition of equipment or machinery for the investment project. When an application for sales and use tax deferral is timely submitted, costs incurred before the application date are allowable, if they otherwise qualify. In the case of an investment project consisting of "multiple qualified buildings," applications must be made for, and before the initiation of construction of, each qualified building.
(a) What is "initiation of construction" for purposes of this section?
(i) On or after June 10, 2004.
(A) Initiation of construction means the date that a building permit is issued under the building code adopted under RCW 19.27.031 for:
(I) Construction of the qualified building, if the underlying ownership of the building vests exclusively with the person receiving the economic benefit of the deferral;
(II) Construction of the qualified building, if a lessor passes the economic benefits of the deferral to a lessee as provided in RCW 82.63.010(7); or
(III) Tenant improvements for a qualified building, if a lessor passes the economic benefits of the deferral to a lessee as provided in RCW 82.63.010(7).
(B) Initiation of construction does not include soil testing, site clearing and grading, site preparation, or any other related activities that are initiated before the issuance of a building permit for the construction of the foundation of the building.
(C) If the investment project is a phased project, initiation of construction must apply separately to each building. For purposes of this section, a "phased project" means construction of multiple buildings in different phases over the life of a project. A taxpayer may file a separate application for each qualified building, or the taxpayer may file one application for all qualified buildings. If a taxpayer files one application for all qualified buildings, initiation of construction must apply separately to each building.
(ii) Prior to June 10, 2004. Construction is initiated when workers start on-site building tasks. The initiation of construction does not include land clearing or site preparation prior to excavation of the building site. Also, the initiation of construction does not include design or planning activities.
(b) What is "acquisition of machinery and equipment" for purposes of this section? "Acquisition of machinery and equipment" means the machinery and equipment is under the dominion and control of the recipient or its agent.
(c) Lessor and lessee examples.
(i) Prior to the initiation of construction, Owner/Lessor A enters into an agreement with Lessee B, a company engaged in qualified research and development. Under the agreement, A will build a building to house B's research and development activities, will apply for a tax deferral on construction of the building, will lease the building to B, and will pass on the entire value of the deferral to B. B agrees in writing with the department to complete annual surveys. A applies for the deferral before the date the building permit is issued. A is entitled to a deferral on building construction costs.
(ii) After construction has begun, Lessee C asks that certain tenant improvements be added to the building. Lessor D and Lessee C each agree to pay a portion of the cost of the improvements. D agrees with C in a written agreement that D will pass on the entire value of D's portion of the tax deferral to C, and C agrees in writing with the department to complete annual surveys. C and D each apply for a deferral on the costs of the tenant improvements they are legally responsible for before the date the building permit is issued for such tenant improvements. Both applications will be approved. While construction of the building was initiated before the applications were submitted, tenant improvements on a building under construction are deemed to be the expansion or renovation of an existing structure. Also, lessees are entitled to the deferral only if they are legally responsible and actually pay contractors for the improvements, rather than merely reimbursing lessors for the costs.
(iii) After construction has begun but before machinery or equipment has been acquired, Lessee E applies for a deferral on machinery and equipment. The application will be approved, and E is required to complete annual surveys. Even though it is too late to apply for a deferral of tax on building costs, it is not too late to apply for a deferral for the machinery and equipment.
(d) How may a taxpayer obtain an application form? Application forms may be obtained at department of revenue district offices, by downloading from the department's web site (dor.wa.gov), by telephoning the telephone information center ( 800-647-7706), or by contacting the department's special programs division at:
Department of Revenue
Special Programs Division
Post Office Box 47477
Olympia, WA 98504-7477
Applicants must mail or fax applications to the special programs division at the address or fax number given above. Only those applications which are approved by the department in connection with the deferral program are not confidential and are subject to public disclosure.
For purposes of this section, "applicant" means a person applying for a tax deferral under chapter 82.63 RCW, and "department" means the department of revenue.
(e) What should an application form include? The application form should include information regarding the location of the investment project, the applicant's average employment in Washington for the prior year, estimated or actual new employment related to the project, estimated or actual wages of employees related to the project, estimated or actual costs, and time schedules for completion and operation. The application form may also include other information relevant to the project and the applicant's eligibility for deferral.
(f) What is the date of application? The date of application is the earlier of the postmark date or the date of receipt by the department.
(g) When will the department notify approval or disapproval of the deferral application? The department must rule on an application within sixty days. If an application is denied, the department must explain in writing the basis for the denial. An applicant may appeal a denial within thirty days under WAC 458-20-100 (Appeals).
(6) Can a lessee leasing "multiple qualified buildings" elect to treat the "multiple qualified buildings" as a single investment project? Yes. If a lessee will conduct qualified research and development or pilot scale manufacturing within the "multiple qualified buildings" and desires to treat the "multiple qualified buildings" as a single investment project, the lessee may do so by making both a preliminary election and a final election therefore.
(a) When must the lessee make the preliminary election to treat the "multiple qualified buildings" as a single investment project? The lessee must make the preliminary election before a temporary certificate of occupancy, or its equivalent, is issued for any of the buildings within the "multiple qualified buildings."
(b) When must the lessee make the final election to treat the "multiple qualified buildings" as a single investment project? All buildings included in the final election must have been issued a temporary certificate of occupancy or its equivalent. The lessee must then make the final election for such buildings by the date that is the earlier of:
(i) Sixty months following the date that the lessee made the preliminary election; or
(ii) Thirty days after the issuance of the temporary certificate of occupancy, or its equivalent, for the last "qualified building" to be completed that will be included in the final election.
(c) What occurs if the final election is not made by the deadline? When a final election is not made by the deadline in (b)(i) or (ii) of this subsection, the qualified buildings will each be treated as individual investment projects under the original applications for those buildings.
(d) How are preliminary and final elections made? The preliminary and final elections must be made in the form and manner prescribed by the department. For information concerning the form and manner for making these elections contact the department's special programs division at:
Department of Revenue
Special Programs Division
Post Office Box 47477
Olympia, WA 98504-7477
(e) Before the final election is made, can the lessee choose to exclude one or more of the buildings included in its preliminary election? Yes. Before the final election is made, the lessee may remove one or more of the qualified buildings included in the preliminary election from the investment project. When a qualified building under the preliminary election is, for any reason, not included in the final election, the qualified building will be treated as an individual investment project under the original application for that building.
(f) Application. This subsection (6) applies to deferral applications received by the department after June 30, 2007.
(7) What happens after the department approves the deferral application? If an application is approved, the department must issue the applicant a sales and use tax deferral certificate.
The certificate provides for deferral of state and local sales and use taxes on the eligible investment project. The certificate will state the amount of tax deferral for which the recipient is eligible. It will also state the date by which the project will be operationally complete. The deferral is limited to investment in qualified buildings or qualified machinery and equipment. The deferral does not apply to the taxes of persons with whom the recipient does business, persons the recipient hires, or employees of the recipient.
For purposes of this section, "recipient" means a person receiving a tax deferral under chapter 82.63 RCW.
(8) How should a tax deferral certificate be used? A successful applicant, hereafter referred to as a recipient, must present a copy of the certificate to sellers of goods or retail services provided in connection with the eligible investment project in order to avoid paying sales or use tax. Sellers who accept these certificates in good faith are relieved of the responsibility to collect sales or use tax on transactions covered by the certificates. Sellers must retain copies of certificates as documentation for why sales or use tax was not collected on a transaction.
The certificate cannot be used to defer tax on repairs to, or replacement parts for, qualified machinery and equipment.
(9) May an applicant apply for new deferral at the site of an existing deferral project?
(a) The department must not issue a certificate for an investment project that has already received a deferral under chapter 82.60, 82.61, or 82.63 RCW. For example, replacement machinery and equipment that replaces qualified machinery and equipment is not eligible for the deferral. Also, if renovation is made from an existing building that has already received a deferral under chapter 82.60, 82.61, or 82.63 RCW for the construction of the building, the renovation is not eligible for the deferral.
(b) If expansion is made from an existing building that has already received a deferral under chapter 82.60, 82.61, or 82.63 RCW for the construction of the building, the expanded portion of the building may be eligible for the deferral. Acquisition of machinery and equipment to be used for the expanded portion of the qualified building may also be eligible.
(c) An investment project for qualified research and development that has already received a deferral may also receive an additional deferral certificate for adapting the investment project for use in pilot scale manufacturing.
(d) A certificate may be amended or a certificate issued for a new investment project at an existing facility.
(10) May an applicant or recipient amend an application or certificate? Applicants and recipients may make written requests to the special programs division to amend an application or certificate.
(a) Grounds for requesting amendment include, but are not limited to:
(i) The project will exceed the costs originally stated;
(ii) The project will take more time to complete than originally stated;
(iii) The original application is no longer accurate because of changes in the project; and
(iv) Transfer of ownership of the project.
(b) The department must rule on the request within sixty days. If the request is denied, the department must explain in writing the basis for the denial. An applicant or recipient may appeal a denial within thirty days under WAC 458-20-100 (Appeals).
(11) What should a recipient of a tax deferral do when its investment project is operationally complete?
(a) When the building, machinery, or equipment is ready for use, or when a final election is made to treat "multiple qualified buildings" as single investment project, the recipient must notify the special programs division in writing that the eligible investment project is operationally complete. The department must, after appropriate investigation: Certify that the project is operationally complete; not certify the project; or certify only a portion of the project. The certification will include the year in which the project is operationally complete. If the department certifies as an operationally complete investment project consisting of "multiple qualifying buildings," the certification is deemed to have occurred in the calendar year in which the final election is made.
(b) If all or any portion of the project is not certified, the recipient must repay all or a proportional part of the deferred taxes. The department will notify the recipient of the amount due, including interest, and the due date.
(c) The department must explain in writing the basis for not certifying all or any portion of a project. The decision of the department to not certify all or a portion of a project may be appealed under WAC 458-20-100 (Appeals) within thirty days.
(d) An investment project consisting of "multiple qualifying buildings" may not be certified as operationally complete unless the lessee furnishes the department with a bond, letter of credit, or other security acceptable to the department in an amount equal to the repayment obligation as determined by the department. The department may decrease the secured amount each year as the repayment obligation decreases under the provisions of RCW 82.63.045. If the lessee does not furnish the department with a bond, letter of credit, or other acceptable security equal to the amount of deferred tax, the qualified buildings will each be treated as individual investment projects under the original applications for those buildings.
(12) Is a recipient of a tax deferral required to submit annual surveys? Each recipient of a tax deferral granted under chapter 82.63 RCW must complete an annual survey. If the economic benefits of the deferral are passed to a lessee as provided in RCW 82.63.010(7), the lessee must agree to complete the annual survey and the applicant is not required to complete the annual survey. See WAC 458-20-268 (Annual surveys for certain tax adjustments) for more information on the requirements to file annual surveys.
(13) Is a recipient of tax deferral required to repay deferred taxes?
(a) When is repayment required? Deferred taxes must be repaid if an investment project is used for purposes other than qualified research and development or pilot scale manufacturing during the calendar year for which the department certifies the investment project as operationally complete or at any time during any of the succeeding seven calendar years. Taxes are immediately due according to the following schedule:
Year in which
nonqualifying use occurs
% of deferred taxes due
1
100%
 
2
87.5%
 
3
75%
 
4
62.5%
 
5
50%
 
6
37.5%
 
7
25%
 
8
12.5%
 
Interest on the taxes, but not penalties, must be paid retroactively to the date of deferral. For purposes of this section, the date of deferral is the date tax-deferred items are purchased.
The lessee of an investment project consisting of "multiple qualified buildings" is solely liable for payment of any deferred tax determined to be due and payable beginning on the date the department certifies the product as operationally complete. This does not relieve any lessor of its obligation under RCW 82.63.010(7) and subsection (3)(a) of this section to pass the economic benefit of the deferral to the lessee.
(b) When is repayment not required?
(i) Deferred taxes need not be repaid if the investment project is used only for qualified research and development or pilot scale manufacturing during the calendar year for which the department certifies the investment project as operationally complete and during the succeeding seven calendar years.
(ii) Deferred taxes need not be repaid on particular items if the purchase or use of the item would have qualified for the machinery and equipment sales and use tax exemptions provided by RCW 82.08.02565 and 82.12.02565 (discussed in WAC 458-20-13601) at the time of purchase or first use.
(iii) Deferred taxes need not be repaid if qualified machinery and equipment on which the taxes were deferred is destroyed, becomes inoperable and cannot be reasonably repaired, wears out, or becomes obsolete and is no longer practical for use in the project. The use of machinery and equipment which becomes obsolete for purposes of the project and is used outside the project is subject to use tax at the time of such use.
(14) When will the tax deferral program expire? The authority of the department to issue deferral certificates expires January 1, 2015.
(15) Is debt extinguishable because of insolvency or sale? The debt for deferred taxes will not be extinguished by the insolvency or other failure of the recipient.
(16) Does transfer of ownership terminate tax deferral? Transfer of ownership does not terminate the deferral. The deferral may be transferred to the new owner if the new owner meets all eligibility requirements for the remaining periods of the deferral. The new owner must apply for an amendment to the deferral certificate. If the deferral is transferred, the new owner is liable for repayment of deferred taxes under the same terms as the original owner. If the new owner is a successor to the previous owner under the terms of WAC 458-20-216 (Successors, quitting business) and the deferral is not transferred, the new owner's liability for deferred taxes is limited to those that are due for payment at the time ownership is transferred.
PART II
SALES AND USE TAX EXEMPTION FOR PERSONS ENGAGED IN CERTAIN CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
(17) Persons engaged in construction activities for the federal government. Effective June 10, 2004, persons engaged in the business of constructing, repairing, decorating, or improving new or existing buildings or other structures under, upon, or above real property of or for the United States, or any instrumentality thereof, are not liable for sales and use tax on tangible personal property incorporated into, installed in, or attached to such building or other structure, if the investment project would qualify for sales and use tax deferral under chapter 82.63 RCW if undertaken by a private entity. RCW 82.04.190(6).
PART III
BUSINESS AND OCCUPATION TAX CREDIT FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT SPENDING
(18) Who is eligible for the business and occupation tax credit? RCW 82.04.4452 provides for a business and occupation tax credit for persons engaging in research and development in Washington in five areas of high technology: Advanced computing, advanced materials, biotechnology, electronic device technology, and environmental technology.
A person is eligible for the credit if its research and development spending in the calendar year for which credit is claimed exceeds 0.92 percent of the person's taxable amount for the same calendar year.
(a) What does the term "person" mean for purposes of this credit? "Person" has the meaning given in RCW 82.04.030.
(b) What is "research and development spending" for purposes of this section? "Research and development spending" means qualified research and development expenditures plus eighty percent of amounts paid to a person other than a public educational or research institution to conduct qualified research and development.
(c) What is "taxable amount" for purposes of this section? "Taxable amount" means the taxable amount subject to business and occupation tax required to be reported on the person's combined excise tax returns for the year for which the credit is claimed, less any taxable amount for which a multiple activities tax credit is allowed under RCW 82.04.440. See WAC 458-20-19301 (Multiple activities tax credits) for information on the multiple activities tax credit.
(d) What are "qualified research and development expenditures" for purposes of this section? "Qualified research and development expenditures" means operating expenses, including wages, compensation of a proprietor or a partner in a partnership, benefits, supplies, and computer expenses, directly incurred in qualified research and development by a person claiming the business and occupation tax credit provided by RCW 82.04.4452. The term does not include amounts paid to a person other than a public educational or research institution to conduct qualified research and development. Nor does the term include capital costs and overhead, such as expenses for land, structures, or depreciable property.
(i) In order for an operating expense to be a qualified research and development expenditure, it must be directly incurred in qualified research and development. If an employee performs qualified research and development activities and also performs other activities, only the wages and benefits proportionate to the time spent on qualified research and development activities are qualified research and development expenditures under this section. The wages of employees who supervise or are supervised by persons performing qualified research and development are qualified research and development expenditures to the extent the work of those supervising or being supervised involves qualified research and development.
(ii) The compensation of a proprietor or a partner is determined in one of two ways:
(A) If there is net income for federal income tax purposes, the amount reported subject to self-employment tax is the compensation.
(B) If there is no net income for federal income tax purposes, reasonable cash withdrawals or cash advances are the compensation.
(iii) Depreciable property is any property with a useful life of at least a year. Expenses for depreciable property will not constitute qualified research and development expenditures even if such property may be fully deductible for federal income tax purposes in the year of acquisition.
(iv) Computer expenses do not include the purchase, lease, rental, maintenance, repair or upgrade of computer hardware or software. They do include internet subscriber fees, run time on a mainframe computer, and outside processing.
(v) Training expenses for employees are qualified research and development expenditures if the training is directly related to the research and development being performed. Training expenses include registration fees, materials, and travel expenses. Although the research and development must occur in Washington, training may take place outside of Washington.
(vi) Qualified research and development expenditures include the cost of clinical trials for drugs and certification by Underwriters Laboratories.
(vii) Qualified research and development expenditures do not include legal expenses, patent fees, or any other expense not incurred directly for qualified research and development.
(viii) Stock options granted as compensation to employees performing qualified research and development are qualified research and development expenditures to the extent they are reported on the W-2 forms of the employees and are taken as a deduction for federal income tax purposes by the employer.
(ix) Preemployment expenses related to employees who perform qualified research and development are qualified research and development expenditures. These expenses include recruiting and relocation expenses and employee placement fees.
(e) What does it mean to "conduct" qualified research and development for purposes of this section? A person is conducting qualified research and development when:
(i) The person is in charge of a project or a phase of the project; and
(ii) The activities performed by that person in the project or the phase of the project constitute qualified research and development.
(iii) Examples.
(A) Company C is conducting qualified research and development. It enters into a contract with Company D requiring D to provide workers to perform activities under the direction of C. D is not entitled to the credit because D is not conducting qualified research and development. Its employees work under the direction of C. C is entitled to the credit if all other requirements of the credit are met.
(B) Company F enters into a contract with Company G requiring G to perform qualified research and development on a phase of its project. The phase of the project constitutes qualified research and development. F is not entitled to the credit because F is not conducting qualified research and development on that phase of the project. G, however, is entitled to the credit if all other requirements of the credit are met.
(f) What is "qualified research and development" for purposes of this section? "Qualified research and development" means research and development performed within this state in the fields of advanced computing, advanced materials, biotechnology, electronic device technology, and environmental technology.
(g) What is "research and development" for purposes of this section? See subsection (3)(c) of this section for more information on the definition of research and development.
(i) Example. A company that engages in environmental cleanup contracted to clean up a site. It had never faced exactly the same situation before, but guaranteed at the outset that it could do the job. It used a variety of existing technologies to accomplish the task in a combination it had never used before. The company was not engaged in qualified research and development in performing this contract. While the company applied existing technologies in a unique manner, there was no uncertainty to attain the desired or necessary specifications, and therefore the outcome of the project was certain.
(ii) Example. Same facts as (g)(i) of this subsection, except that the company performed research on a technology that had been applied in other contexts but never in the context where the company was attempting to use it, and it was uncertain at the outset whether the technology could achieve the desired outcome in the new context. If the company failed, it would have to apply an existing technology that is much more costly in its cleanup effort. The company was engaged in qualified research and development with respect to the research performed in developing the technology.
(iii) Example. Company A is engaged in research and development in biotechnology and needs to perform standard blood tests as part of its development of a drug. It contracts with a lab, B, to perform the tests. The costs of the tests are qualified research and development expenditures for A, the company engaged in the research and development. Although the tests themselves are routine, they are only a part of what A is doing in the course of developing the drug. B, the lab contracted to perform the testing, is not engaged in research and development with respect to the drug being developed. B is neither discovering technological information nor translating technological information into new or improved products, processes, techniques, formulas, inventions, or software. B is not entitled to a credit on account of the compensation it receives for conducting the tests.
(h) What are the five high technology areas? See subsection (3)(e) of this section for more information.
(19) How is the business and occupation tax credit calculated?
(a) On or after July 1, 2004. The amount of the credit is calculated as follows:
(i) A person must first determine the greater of:
The person's qualified research and development expenditures;
or
Eighty percent of amounts received by a person other than a public educational or research institution as compensation for conducting qualified research and development.
(ii) Then the person subtracts, from the amount determined under (a)(i) of this subsection, 0.92 percent of its taxable amount. If 0.92 percent of the taxable amount exceeds the amount determined under (a)(i) of this subsection, the person is not eligible for the credit.
(iii) The credit is calculated by multiplying the amount determined under (a)(ii) of this subsection by the following:
(A) For the periods of July 1, 2004, to December 31, 2006, the person's average tax rate for the calendar year for which the credit is claimed;
(B) For the periods of January 1, 2007, to December 31, 2007, the greater of the person's average tax rate for the calendar year or 0.75 percent;
(C) For the periods of January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2008, the greater of the person's average tax rate for the calendar year or 1.0 percent;
(D) For the periods of January 1, 2009, to December 31, 2009, the greater of the person's average tax rate for the calendar year or 1.25 percent; and
(E) For the periods after December 31, 2009, 1.50 percent.
(iv) For the purposes of this section, "average tax rate" means a person's total business and occupation tax liability for the calendar year for which the credit is claimed, divided by the person's total taxable amount for the calendar year for which the credit is claimed.
(v) For purposes of calculating the credit, if a person's reporting period is less than annual, the person may use an estimated average tax rate for the calendar year for which the credit is claimed, by using the person's average tax rate for each reporting period. When the person files its last return for the calendar year, the person must make an adjustment to the total credit claimed for the calendar year using the person's actual average tax rate for the calendar year.
(vi) Examples.
(A) A business engaging in qualified research and development has a taxable amount of $10,000,000 in a year. It pays $80,000 in that year in wages and benefits to employees directly engaged in qualified research and development. The business has no other qualified research and development expenditures. Its qualified research and development expenditures of $80,000 are less than $92,000 (0.92 percent of its taxable amount of $10,000,000). If a business's qualified research and development expenditures (or eighty percent of amounts received for the conduct of qualified research and development) are less than 0.92 percent of its taxable amount, it is not eligible for the credit.
(B) A business engaging in qualified research and development has a taxable amount of $10,000,000 in 2005. Seven million dollars of this amount is taxable at the rate of 0.015 under the B&O tax classification for services and $3,000,000 is taxable at the rate of 0.00484 under the B&O tax classification for royalties. The business pays $119,520 in B&O tax for this reporting period. It pays $200,000 in that year to employees directly engaged in qualified research and development. The business has no other qualified research and development expenditures.
In order to determine the amount of its credit, the business subtracts $92,000 (0.92 percent of its taxable amount of $10,000,000) from $200,000, its qualified research and development expenditures. The resulting amount of $108,000 multiplied by the business's average tax rate equals the amount of the credit.
The business's average tax rate in 2005 is determined by dividing its B&O tax of $119,520 by its taxable amount of $10,000,000. The result, 0.01195, is multiplied by $108,000 to determine the amount of the credit. The credit is $1,291 ($1,290.60 rounded to the nearest whole dollar).
(b) From July 1, 1998 to June 30, 2004. The amount of the credit is equal to the greater of:
The person's qualified research and development expenditures;
or
Eighty percent of amounts received by a person other than a public educational or research institution as compensation for conducting qualified research and development
multiplied by 0.00484 in the case of a nonprofit corporation or association; and
multiplied by 0.015 in the case of all other persons.
(c) Prior to July 1, 1998. The amount of the credit is equal to the greater of:
The person's qualified research and development expenditures;
or
Eighty percent of amounts received by a person other than a public educational or research institution as compensation for conducting qualified research and development
multiplied by 0.00515 in the case of a nonprofit corporation or association; and
multiplied by 0.025 in the case of all other persons.
(d) The credit for any calendar year may not exceed the lesser of two million dollars or the amount of business and occupation tax otherwise due for the calendar year.
(e) Credits may not be carried forward or carried back to other calendar years.
(20) Is the person claiming the business and occupation tax credit required to submit annual surveys? Each person claiming the credit granted under RCW 82.04.4452 must complete an annual survey. See WAC 458-20-268 (Annual surveys for certain tax adjustments) for more information on the requirements to file annual surveys.
(21) Is the business and occupation tax credit assignable? A person entitled to the credit because of qualified research and development conducted under contract for another person may assign all or a portion of the credit to the person who contracted for the performance of the qualified research and development.
(a) Both the assignor and the assignee must be eligible for the credit for the assignment to be valid.
(b) The total of the credit claimed and the credit assigned by a person assigning credit may not exceed the lesser of two million dollars or the amount of business and occupation tax otherwise due from the assignor in any calendar year.
(c) The total of the credit claimed, including credit received by assignment, may not exceed the lesser of two million dollars or the amount of business and occupation tax otherwise due from the assignee in any calendar year.
(22) What happens if a person has claimed the business and occupation tax credit earlier but is later found ineligible? If a person has claimed the credit earlier but is later found ineligible for the credit, then the department will declare the taxes against which the credit was claimed to be immediately due and payable. Interest on the taxes, but not penalties, must be paid retroactively to the date the credit was claimed.
(23) When will the business and occupation tax credit program expire? The business and occupation tax credit program for high technology businesses expires January 1, 2015.
(24) Do staffing companies qualify for the business and occupation tax credit program? A staffing company may be eligible for the credit if its research and development spending in the calendar year for which credit is claimed exceeds 0.92 percent of the person's taxable amount for the same calendar year.
(a) Qualifications of the credit. In order to qualify for the credit, a staffing company must meet the following criteria:
(i) It must conduct qualified research and development through its employees;
(ii) Its employees must perform qualified research and development activities in a project or a phase of the project, without considering any activity performed:
(A) By the person contracting with the staffing company for such performance; or
(B) By any other person;
(iii) It must complete an annual survey by March 31st following any year in which the credit was taken; and
(iv) It must document any claim of the B&O tax credit.
(b) Examples.
(i) Company M, a staffing company, furnishes three employees to Company N for assisting a research project in electronic device technology. N has a manager and five employees working on the same project. The work of M's employees and N's employees combined as a whole constitutes qualified research and development. M's employees do not perform sufficient activities themselves to be considered performing qualified research and development. M does not qualify for the credit.
(ii) Company V, a staffing company, furnishes three employees to Company W for performing a phase of a research project in advanced materials. W has a manager and five employees working on other phases of the same project. V's employees are in charge of a phase of the project that results in discovery of technological information. The work of V's employees alone constitutes qualified research and development. V qualifies for the credit if all other requirements of the credit are met.
(iii) Same as (b)(ii) of this subsection, except that the phase of the research project involves development of computer software for W's internal use. The work of V's employees alone constitutes qualified research and development. V qualifies for the credit if all other requirements of the credit are met.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300 and 82.01.060(2). WSR 10-21-044, § 458-20-24003, filed 10/13/10, effective 11/13/10; WSR 10-07-136, § 458-20-24003, filed 3/23/10, effective 4/23/10; WSR 06-18-059, § 458-20-24003, filed 8/31/06, effective 10/1/06. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300, 82.01.060(2), and 82.63.010. WSR 03-12-053, § 458-20-24003, filed 5/30/03, effective 6/30/03.]