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82.08.985  <<  82.08.986 >>   82.08.990

RCW 82.08.986

Exemptions — Eligible server equipment. (Expires April 1, 2020.)

(1) An exemption from the tax imposed by RCW 82.08.020 is provided for sales to qualifying businesses and to qualifying tenants of eligible server equipment to be installed, without intervening use, in an eligible computer data center, and to charges made for labor and services rendered in respect to installing eligible server equipment. The exemption also applies to sales to qualifying businesses and to qualifying tenants of eligible power infrastructure, including labor and services rendered in respect to constructing, installing, repairing, altering, or improving eligible power infrastructure.

     (2)(a) In order to claim the exemption under this section, a qualifying business or a qualifying tenant must submit an application to the department for an exemption certificate. The application must include the information necessary, as required by the department, to determine that a business or tenant qualifies for the exemption under this section. The department must issue exemption certificates to qualifying businesses and qualifying tenants. The department may assign a unique identification number to each exemption certificate issued under this section.

     (b) A qualifying business or a qualifying tenant claiming the exemption under this section must present the seller with an exemption certificate in a form and manner prescribed by the department. The seller must retain a copy of the certificate for the seller's files.

     (3)(a) Within six years of the date that the department issued an exemption certificate under this section to a qualifying business or a qualifying tenant with respect to an eligible computer data center, the qualifying business or qualifying tenant must establish that net employment at the eligible computer data center has increased by a minimum of:

     (i) Thirty-five family wage employment positions; or

     (ii) Three family wage employment positions for each twenty thousand square feet of space or less that is newly dedicated to housing working servers at the eligible computer data center. For qualifying tenants, the number of family wage employment positions that must be increased under this subsection (3)(a)(ii) is based only on the space occupied by the qualifying tenant in the eligible computer data center.

     (b) In calculating the net increase in family wage employment positions:

     (i) The owner of an eligible computer data center, in addition to its own net increase in family wage employment positions, may include:

     (A) The net increase in family wage employment positions employed by qualifying tenants; and

     (B) The net increase in family wage employment positions described in (c)(ii)(B) of this subsection (3).

     (ii)(A) Qualifying tenants, in addition to their own net increase in family wage employment positions, may include:

     (I) A portion of the net increase in family wage employment positions employed by the owner; and

     (II) A portion of the net increase in family wage employment positions described in (c)(ii)(B) of this subsection (3).

     (B) The portion of the net increase in family wage employment positions to be counted under this subsection (3)(b)(ii) by each qualifying tenant must be in proportion to the amount of space in the eligible computer data center occupied by the qualifying tenant compared to the total amount of space in the eligible computer data center occupied by all qualifying tenants.

     (c)(i) For purposes of this subsection, family wage employment positions are new permanent employment positions requiring forty hours of weekly work, or their equivalent, on a full-time basis at the eligible computer data center and receiving a wage equivalent to or greater than one hundred fifty percent of the per capita personal income of the county in which the qualified project is located. An employment position may not be counted as a family wage employment position unless the employment position is entitled to health insurance coverage provided by the employer of the employment position. For purposes of this subsection (3)(c), "new permanent employment position" means an employment position that did not exist or that had not previously been filled as of the date that the department issued an exemption certificate to the owner or qualifying tenant of an eligible computer data center, as the case may be.

     (ii)(A) Family wage employment positions include positions filled by employees of the owner of the eligible computer data center and by employees of qualifying tenants.

     (B) Family wage employment positions also include individuals performing work at an eligible computer data center as an independent contractor hired by the owner of the eligible computer data center or as an employee of an independent contractor hired by the owner of the eligible computer data center, if the work is necessary for the operation of the computer data center, such as security and building maintenance, and provided that all of the requirements in (c)(i) of this subsection (3) are met.

     (d) All previously exempted sales and use taxes are immediately due and payable for a qualifying business or qualifying tenant that does not meet the requirements of this subsection.

     (4) A qualifying business or a qualifying tenant claiming an exemption under this section or RCW 82.12.986 must complete an annual report with the department as required under RCW 82.32.534.

     (5)(a) The exemption provided in this section does not apply to:

     (i) Any person who has received the benefit of the deferral program under chapter 82.60 RCW on: (A) The construction, renovation, or expansion of a structure or structures used as a computer data center; or (B) machinery or equipment used in a computer data center; and

     (ii) Any person affiliated with a person within the scope of (a)(i) of this subsection (5).

     (b) If a person claims an exemption under this section and subsequently receives the benefit of the deferral program under chapter 82.60 RCW on either the construction, renovation, or expansion of a structure or structures used as a computer data center or machinery or equipment used in a computer data center, the person must repay the amount of taxes exempted under this section. Interest as provided in chapter 82.32 RCW applies to amounts due under this section until paid in full.

     (6) For purposes of this section the following definitions apply unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

     (a) "Affiliated" means that one person has a direct or indirect ownership interest of at least twenty percent in another person.

     (b)(i) "Computer data center" means a facility comprised of one or more buildings, which may be comprised of multiple businesses, constructed or refurbished specifically, and used primarily, to house working servers, where the facility has the following characteristics: (A) Uninterruptible power supplies, generator backup power, or both; (B) sophisticated fire suppression and prevention systems; and (C) enhanced physical security, such as: Restricted access to the facility to selected personnel; permanent security guards; video camera surveillance; an electronic system requiring passcodes, keycards, or biometric scans, such as hand scans and retinal or fingerprint recognition; or similar security features.

     (ii) For a computer data center comprised of multiple buildings, each separate building constructed or refurbished specifically, and used primarily, to house working servers is considered a computer data center if it has all of the characteristics listed in (b)(i)(A) through (C) of this subsection (6).

     (iii) A facility comprised of one building or more than one building must have a combined square footage of at least one hundred thousand square feet.

     (c) "Electronic data storage and data management services" include, but are not limited to: Providing data storage and backup services, providing computer processing power, hosting enterprise software applications, and hosting web sites. The term also includes providing services such as e-mail, web browsing and searching, media applications, and other online services, regardless of whether a charge is made for such services.

     (d)(i) "Eligible computer data center" means a computer data center:

     (A) Located in a rural county as defined in RCW 82.14.370;

     (B) Having at least twenty thousand square feet dedicated to housing working servers, where the server space has not previously been dedicated to housing working servers; and

     (C) For which the commencement of construction occurs:

     (I) After March 31, 2010, and before July 1, 2011; or

     (II) After March 31, 2012, and before July 1, 2015.

     (ii) For purposes of this section, "commencement of construction" means the date that a building permit is issued under the building code adopted under RCW 19.27.031 for construction of the computer data center. The construction of a computer data center includes the expansion, renovation, or other improvements made to existing facilities, including leased or rented space. "Commencement 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 a computer data center.

     (iii) With respect to facilities in existence on April 1, 2010, that are expanded, renovated, or otherwise improved after March 31, 2010, or facilities in existence on April 1, 2012, that are expanded, renovated, or otherwise improved after March 31, 2012, an eligible computer data center includes only the portion of the computer data center meeting the requirements in (d)(i)(B) of this subsection (6).

     (e) "Eligible power infrastructure" means all fixtures and equipment owned by a qualifying business or qualifying tenant and necessary for the transformation, distribution, or management of electricity that is required to operate eligible server equipment within an eligible computer data center. The term includes generators; wiring; cogeneration equipment; and associated fixtures and equipment, such as electrical switches, batteries, and distribution, testing, and monitoring equipment.

     (f) "Eligible server equipment" means:

     (i) For a qualifying business whose computer data center qualifies as an eligible computer data center under (d)(i)(C)(I) of this subsection (6), the original server equipment installed in an eligible computer data center on or after April 1, 2010, and replacement server equipment. For purposes of this subsection (6)(f)(i), "replacement server equipment" means server equipment that:

     (A) Replaces existing server equipment, if the sale or use of the server equipment to be replaced qualified for an exemption under this section or RCW 82.12.986; and

     (B) Is installed and put into regular use before April 1, 2018.

     (ii) For a qualifying business whose computer data center qualifies as an eligible computer data center under (d)(i)(C)(II) of this subsection (6), "eligible server equipment" means the original server equipment installed in an eligible computer data center on or after April 1, 2012, and replacement server equipment. For purposes of this subsection (6)(f)(ii), "replacement server equipment" means server equipment that:

     (A) Replaces existing server equipment, if the sale or use of the server equipment to be replaced qualified for an exemption under this section or RCW 82.12.986; and

     (B) Is installed and put into regular use before April 1, 2020.

     (iii) For a qualifying tenant who leases space within an eligible computer data center, "eligible server equipment" means the original server equipment installed within the space it leases from an eligible computer data center on or after April 1, 2010, and replacement server equipment. For purposes of this subsection (6)(f)(iii), "replacement server equipment" means server equipment that:

     (A) Replaces existing server equipment, if the sale or use of the server equipment to be replaced qualified for an exemption under this section or RCW 82.12.986; and

     (B) Is installed and put into regular use before April 1, 2020.

     (g) "Qualifying business" means a business entity that exists for the primary purpose of engaging in commercial activity for profit and that is the owner of an eligible computer data center. The term does not include the state or federal government or any of their departments, agencies, and institutions; tribal governments; political subdivisions of this state; or any municipal, quasi-municipal, public, or other corporation created by the state or federal government, tribal government, municipality, or political subdivision of the state.

     (h) "Qualifying tenant" means a business entity that exists for the primary purpose of engaging in commercial activity for profit and that leases space from a qualifying business within an eligible computer data center. The term does not include the state or federal government or any of their departments, agencies, and institutions; tribal governments; political subdivisions of this state; or any municipal, quasi-municipal, public, or other corporation created by the state or federal government, tribal government, municipality, or political subdivision of the state. The term also does not include a lessee of space in an eligible computer data center under (d)(i)(C)(I) of this subsection (6), if the lessee and lessor are affiliated and:

     (i) That space will be used by the lessee to house server equipment that replaces server equipment previously installed and operated in that eligible computer data center by the lessor or another person affiliated with the lessee; or

     (ii) Prior to May 2, 2012, the primary use of the server equipment installed in that eligible computer data center was to provide electronic data storage and data management services for the business purposes of either the lessor, persons affiliated with the lessor, or both.

     (i) "Server equipment" means the computer hardware located in an eligible computer data center and used exclusively to provide electronic data storage and data management services for internal use by the owner or lessee of the computer data center, for clients of the owner or lessee of the computer data center, or both. "Server equipment" also includes computer software necessary to operate the computer hardware. "Server equipment" does not include personal computers, the racks upon which the server equipment is installed, and computer peripherals such as keyboards, monitors, printers, and mice.

     (7) This section expires April 1, 2020.

[2012 2nd sp.s. c 6 § 302; 2010 1st sp.s. c 23 § 1601; 2010 1st sp.s. c 1 § 2.]

Notes:

     Reviser's note: Pursuant to RCW 43.135.041, chapter 6, Laws of 2012 2nd special session was subject to an advisory vote of the people in the November 2012 general election on whether the tax increase in such session law should be maintained or repealed. The advisory vote was in favor of repeal.

     Intent -- Finding -- 2012 2nd sp.s. c 6: "(1) It is the legislature's intent to encourage immediate investments in technology facilities that can provide an economic stimulus, sustain long-term jobs that provide living wages, and help build the digital infrastructure that can enable the state to be competitive for additional technology investment and jobs.

     (2) There is currently an intense competition for data center construction and operation in many states including: Oregon, Arizona, North and South Carolina, North Dakota, Iowa, Virginia, Texas, and Illinois. Unprecedented incentives are available as a result of the desire of these states to attract investments that will serve as a catalyst for additional clusters of economic activity.    

     (3) Data center technology has advanced rapidly, with marked increases in energy efficiency. Large, commercial-grade data centers leverage the economies of scale to reduce energy consumption. Combining digitized processes with the economies of scale recognized at these data centers, today's enterprises can materially reduce the energy they consume and greatly improve their efficiency.

     (4) The legislature finds that offering an exemption for server and related electrical equipment and installation will act as a stimulus to incent immediate investment. This investment will bring jobs, tax revenues, and economic growth to some of our state's rural areas." [2012 2nd sp.s. c 6 § 301.]

     Existing rights, liabilities, or obligations -- Effective dates -- Contingent effective dates -- 2012 2nd sp.s. c 6: See notes following RCW 82.04.29005.

     Effective date -- 2010 1st sp.s. c 23: See note following RCW 82.32.655.

     Findings -- Intent -- 2010 1st sp.s. c 23: See notes following RCW 82.04.220.

     Intent -- Finding -- 2010 1st sp.s. c 1: "(1) It is the legislature's intent to encourage immediate investments in technology facilities that can provide an economic stimulus, sustain long-term jobs that provide living wages, and help build the digital infrastructure that can enable the state to be competitive for additional technology investment and jobs.

     (2) There is currently an intense competition for data center construction and operation in many states including: Oregon, Arizona, North and South Carolina, North Dakota, Iowa, Virginia, Texas, and Illinois. Unprecedented incentives are available as a result of the desire of these states to attract investments that will serve as a catalyst for additional clusters of economic activity.

     (3) Since the economic downturn, Washington has not succeeded in attracting any private investments in these centers after siting six major data centers between 2004 and 2007.

     (4) Data center technology has advanced rapidly, with marked increases in energy efficiency. Large, commercial-grade data centers leverage the economies of scale to reduce energy consumption. Combining digitized processes with the economies of scale recognized at these data centers, today's enterprises can materially reduce the energy they consume and greatly improve their efficiency.

     (5) The legislature finds that a fifteen-month window that offers an exemption for server and related electrical equipment and installation will act as a stimulus to incent immediate investment. This investment will bring jobs, tax revenues, and economic growth to some of our state's rural areas." [2010 1st sp.s. c 1 § 1.]

     Effective date -- 2010 1st sp.s. c 1: "This act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or support of the state government and its existing public institutions, and takes effect April 1, 2010." [2010 1st sp.s. c 1 § 4.]