This rule addresses those taxes activities that apply exclusively to cigarettes as defined by RCW 82.24.010
. See WAC 458-20-185
for tax liabilities associated with tobacco products other than cigarettes. The tax on cigarettes is in addition to all other taxes owed. For example, retailers and wholesalers are liable for business and occupation tax on their retailing or wholesaling activities, and must collect and remit sales tax on retail sales of cigarettes. Consumers pay the cigarette tax in addition to sales or use tax on purchases of cigarettes for consumption within this state. (Wholesalers not licensed in the state of Washington who are making sales of cigarettes to Indians in accordance with a cigarette tax contract authorized by RCW 43.06.455
must comply with the specific terms of their individual contracts. See also WAC 458-20-192
regarding sales in Indian country.)
(2) Licensing requirements and responsibilities.
The Washington state liquor control board assumed the licensing responsibilities for cigarettes on July 1, 2009. Please see chapters 314-33
(3) Organization of rule.
The information provided in this rule is divided into six parts:
(a) Part I explains the tax liabilities of persons who sell, use, consume, handle, possess, or distribute cigarettes in this state.
(b) Part II explains the stamping requirements and how the cigarette tax rates are calculated.
(c) Part III describes the exemptions from the tax and the procedures that must be followed to qualify for exemption.
(d) Part IV explains the requirements and responsibilities for persons transporting cigarettes in Washington.
(e) Part V explains the requirements and responsibilities for persons engaged in making delivery sales of cigarettes into this state.
(f) Part VI explains the enforcement and administration of the cigarette tax. Part I - Tax on Cigarettes
(101) In general.
The Washington state cigarette tax is due and payable by the first person who sells, uses, consumes, handles, possesses, or distributes the cigarettes in this state.
For the purpose of this rule, a "possessor" of cigarettes is anyone who personally or through an agent, employee, or designee, has possession of cigarettes in this state.
Payment of the cigarette tax is made through the purchase of stamps from banks authorized by the department of revenue (department) to sell the stamps. Only licensed wholesalers may purchase or obtain cigarette stamps. Except as specifically provided in Part III of this rule, it is unlawful for any person other than a licensed wholesaler to possess unstamped cigarettes in this state. However, as explained in subsection (102)(b) of this rule, certain consumers may possess unstamped cigarettes for personal consumption if they pay the tax as provided in this rule.
(c) Imposition of tax.
Ordinarily, the tax obligation is imposed on and collected from the first possessor of unstamped cigarettes. However, failure of an exempt entity with an obligation to collect and remit the tax does not relieve a subsequent nonexempt possessor of unstamped cigarettes from liability for the tax.
Cigarettes given away for advertising or any other purpose are taxed in the same manner as if they were sold, used, consumed, handled, possessed, or distributed in this state, but are not required to have the stamp affixed. Instead, the manufacturer of the cigarettes must pay the tax on a monthly return filed with the department. See subsection (602) of this rule.
(102) Possession of cigarettes in Washington state.
(a) Every person who is (i) in possession of unstamped cigarettes in this state, and (ii) is not specifically exempt by law, is liable for payment of the cigarette tax as provided in chapter 82.24
RCW and this rule.
(b) Consumers who buy unstamped cigarettes or who purchase cigarettes from sources other than licensed retailers in this state must pay the cigarette tax as provided in subsection (602) of this rule when they first bring the cigarettes into this state or first possess them in this state. This requirement includes, but is not limited to, delivery sales as described in Part VI of this rule.
(c) Cigarettes purchased from Indian retailers.
Special rules apply to cigarettes purchased from Indian retailers.
(i) Indians purchasing cigarettes in Indian country are exempt from the state cigarette tax; however, these sales must comply with WAC 458-20-192
. Other consumers may purchase cigarettes for their personal consumption from "qualified Indian retailers" without incurring liability for state cigarette tax. A "qualified Indian retailer" is one who is subject to the terms of a valid cigarette tax contract with the state pursuant to RCW 43.06.455
(ii) Consumers who purchase cigarettes from Indian retailers who are not subject to a cigarette tax contract with the state must comply with the reporting requirements and remit the cigarette tax as explained in subsection (602) of this rule. These consumers are also liable for the use tax on their purchases. See WAC 458-20-178
(iii) It is the duty of the consumer in each instance to ascertain his or her responsibilities with respect to such purchases.
(d) Cigarettes purchased on military reservations.
Active duty or retired military personnel, and their dependants, may purchase cigarettes for their own consumption on military reservations without paying the state tax (see Part III). However, such persons are not permitted to give or resell those cigarettes to others.
(e) Counterfeit cigarettes.
It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, sell, or possess counterfeit cigarettes. A cigarette is counterfeit if (i) it or its packaging bears any logo or marking used by a manufacturer to identify its own cigarettes, and (ii) the cigarette was not manufactured by the owner of that logo or trademark or by any authorized licensee of the manufacturer. RCW 82.24.570
(f) Possession of unstamped and untaxed cigarettes, and possession of counterfeit cigarettes, are criminal offenses in this state. See Part VI. Part II - Stamping and Rates
(201) Cigarette stamps.
(a) Stamps indicating payment of the cigarette tax must be affixed prior to any sale, use, consumption, handling, possession, or distribution of all cigarettes other than those specifically exempted as explained in Part III of this rule. The stamp must be applied to the smallest container or package, unless the department, in its sole discretion, determines that it is impractical to do so. Stamps must be of the type authorized by the department and affixed in such a manner that they cannot be removed from the package or container without being mutilated or destroyed.
(b) Licensed wholesalers may purchase state-approved cigarette stamps from authorized banks. Payment for stamps must be made at the time of purchase unless the wholesaler has prior approval of the department to defer payment and furnishes a surety bond equal to the proposed monthly credit limit. Payments under a deferred plan are due within thirty days following purchase. Licensed wholesalers are compensated for affixing the stamps at the rate of $6.00 per thousand stamps affixed ("stamping allowance").
(a) The Washington state cigarette tax is imposed on a per cigarette basis. The rate of the tax is a combination of statutory rates found in RCW 82.24.020
, and 82.24.028
(b) When the rate of tax increases, the first person who sells, uses, consumes, handles, possesses, or distributes previously taxed cigarettes after the rate increase is liable for the additional tax.
Any person may request a refund of the face value of the stamps when the tax is not applicable and the stamps are returned to the department. Documentation supporting the claim must be provided at the time the claim for refund is made.
(a) Refunds for stamped untaxed cigarettes sold to Indian tribal members or tribal entities in the full value of the stamps affixed will be approved by an agent of the department.
(b) Refunds for stamped cigarettes will not include the stamping allowance if the stamps are:
(i) Damaged, or unfit for sale, and as a result are destroyed or returned to the manufacturer or distributor; or
(ii) Improperly or partially affixed through burns, jams, double stamps, stamped on carton flaps, or improperly removed from the stamp roll.
(c) The claim for refund must be filed on a form provided by the department. An affidavit or a certificate from the manufacturer for stamped cigarettes returned to the manufacturer for destruction or by an agent of the department verifying the voiding of stamps and authorizing the refund must accompany the claim for refund. Part III - Exemptions
(301) In general.
There are limited exemptions from the cigarette tax provided by law. This part discusses exemptions and the procedures that must be followed to qualify for an exemption.
(302) Government sales.
The cigarette tax does not apply to the sale of cigarettes to:
(a) The United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, or Coast Guard exchanges and commissaries and Navy or Coast Guard ships' stores;
(b) The United States Veteran's Administration; or
(c) Any person authorized to purchase from the federal instrumentalities named in (a) or (b) above, if the cigarettes are purchased from the instrumentality for personal consumption.
(303) Sales in Indian country.
(a) The definitions of "Indian," "Indian country," and "Indian tribe," in WAC 458-20-192
apply to this rule. "Cigarette contract" means an agreement under RCW 43.06.450
(b) The cigarette tax does not apply to cigarettes taxed by an Indian tribe in accordance with a cigarette contract under RCW 43.06.450
(c) The cigarette tax does not apply to cigarettes sold to an Indian in Indian country for personal consumption; however, those sales must comply with the allocation provisions of WAC 458-20-192
. Sales made by an Indian cigarette outlet to nontribal members are subject to the tax, except as provided in (b) above.
(d) See WAC 458-20-192
for information on making wholesale sales of cigarettes to Indians and Indian tribes.
(304) Interstate commerce.
The cigarette tax does not apply to cigarettes sold to persons licensed as cigarette distributors in other states when, as a condition of the sale, the seller either delivers the cigarettes to the buyer at a point outside this state, or delivers the same to a common carrier with the shipment consigned by the seller to the buyer at a location outside this state. Any person engaged in making sales to licensed distributors in other states or making export sales or in making sales to the federal government must furnish a surety bond in a sum equal to twice the amount of tax that would be affixed to the cigarettes that are set aside for the conduct of such business without affixing cigarette stamps. The unstamped stock must be kept separate and apart from any stamped stock. Part IV - Transporting Cigarettes in Washington
(401) Transportation of cigarettes restricted.
No person other than a licensed wholesaler may transport unstamped cigarettes in this state except as specifically set forth in RCW 82.24.250
and this rule, or as may be allowed under a cigarette tax contract subject to the provisions of RCW 43.06.455
. Licensed wholesalers transporting unstamped cigarettes in this state must do so only in their own vehicles unless they have given prior notice to the liquor control board of their intent to transport unstamped cigarettes in a vehicle belonging to another person.
(402) Notice required.
Persons other than licensed wholesalers intending to transport unstamped cigarettes in this state must first give notice to the liquor control board of their intent to do so.
(403) Transportation of unstamped cigarettes.
All persons transporting unstamped cigarettes must have in their actual possession invoices or delivery tickets for such cigarettes. The invoices or delivery tickets must show the true name and address of the consignor or seller, the true name and address of the consignee or purchaser, and the quantity and brands of the cigarettes transported. It is the duty of the person responsible for the delivery or transport of the cigarettes to ensure that all drivers, agents, or employees have the delivery tickets or invoices in their actual possession for all such shipments.
If the cigarettes transported pursuant to subsection (401), (402), or (403) of this rule are consigned to or purchased by any person in this state, that purchaser or consignee must be a person who is authorized by chapter 82.24
RCW to possess unstamped cigarettes in this state.
(405) Out-of-state shipments.
Licensed wholesalers shipping cigarettes to a point outside Washington or to a federal instrumentality must, at the time of shipping or delivery, report the transaction to the department. The report must show both (a) complete details of the sale or delivery, and (b) whether stamps have been affixed to the cigarettes.
The report may be made either by submitting a duplicate invoice or by completing a form provided by the department, and must be filed with the department as set forth in subsection (602) of this rule.
(406) Compliance required.
No person may possess or transport cigarettes in this state unless the cigarettes have been properly stamped or that person has fully complied with the requirements of RCW 82.24.250
and this rule. Failure to comply with the requirements of RCW 82.24.250
is a criminal act. Cigarettes in the possession of persons who have failed to comply are deemed contraband and are subject to seizure and forfeiture under RCW 82.24.130
. Part V - Delivery Sales of Cigarettes
The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this rule.
(a) "Delivery sale"
means any sale of cigarettes to a consumer in the state where either: (i) The purchaser submits an order for a sale by means of a telephonic or other method of voice transmission, mail delivery, any other delivery service, or the internet or other online service; or (ii) the cigarettes are delivered by use of mail delivery or any other delivery service. A sale of cigarettes made in this manner is a delivery sale regardless of whether the seller is located within or outside the state. (For example, "Royal Tax-free Smokes," located in the state of Vermont, offers sales via the internet and a toll-free telephone number, and ships its products to consumers in this state. These transactions are delivery sales.) A sale of cigarettes not for personal consumption to a person who is a wholesaler licensed under chapter 82.24
RCW or a retailer licensed under chapter 82.24
RCW is not a delivery sale.
(b) "Delivery service"
means any private carrier engaged in the commercial delivery of letters, packages, or other containers, that requires the recipient of that letter, package, or container to sign to accept delivery.
(502) Tax liability.
Cigarettes delivered in this state pursuant to a delivery sale are subject to tax as provided in Part I of this rule. Persons making delivery sales in this state are required to provide prospective consumers with notice that the sales are subject to tax pursuant to chapters 82.24
RCW, with an explanation of how the tax has been or is to be paid with respect to such sales.
(503) Additional requirements.
Persons making delivery sales of cigarettes in this state must comply with all the provisions of chapter 70.155
RCW. All cigarettes sold, delivered, or attempted to be delivered, in violation of RCW 70.155.105
are subject to seizure and forfeiture. RCW 82.24.130
. Part VI - Enforcement and Administration
(601) Books and records.
An accurate set of records showing all transactions related to the purchase, sale, or distribution of cigarettes must be retained. RCW 82.24.090
. These records may be combined with those required in connection with the tobacco products tax (see WAC 458-20-185
), if there is a segregation therein of the amounts involved. All records must be preserved for five years from the date of the transaction.
(602) Reports and returns.
The department may require any person dealing with cigarettes in this state to complete and return forms, as furnished by the department, setting forth sales, inventory, and other data required by the department to maintain control over trade in cigarettes.
(a) Manufacturers and wholesalers selling stamped, unstamped, or untaxed cigarettes must submit a complete record of sales of cigarettes in this state monthly. This report is due no later than the fifteenth day of the calendar month and must include all transactions occurring in the previous month.
(b) Persons making sales of tax-exempt cigarettes to Indian tribes or Indian retailers pursuant to WAC 458-20-192
(9)(a) must transmit a copy of the invoice for each such sale to the special programs division of the department prior to shipment.
(c) Wholesalers selling stamped cigarettes manufactured by nonparticipating manufacturers as defined in WAC 458-20-264
must report all such sales to the special programs division no later than the twenty-fifth day of the calendar month and must include all transactions occurring in the previous month.
(d) Persons making sales of cigarettes into this state to other than a licensed wholesaler or retailer must file a report as required under Title 15, Chapter 10A, section 376 of the U.S. Code (commonly referred to as the "Jenkins Act" report). This report is due no later than the 10th day of each calendar month and must include all transactions occurring in the previous month.
(e) Persons shipping or delivering any cigarettes to a point outside of this state must submit a report showing full and complete details of the interstate sale or delivery as set forth in Part V of this rule. This report is due no later than the fifteenth day of the calendar month immediately following the shipment or delivery.
(f) Persons giving away unstamped cigarettes for advertising, promotional, or any other purpose, must report and pay the tax on the number of cigarettes distributed in this state.
(g) Consumers who buy unstamped cigarettes or who purchase cigarettes from sources other than licensed retailers in this state must pay the tax when they first bring the cigarettes into this state or first possess them in this state. The tax is paid with a "Tax Declaration for Cigarettes," which may be obtained from the department.
(603) Criminal provisions.
RCW prohibits certain activities with respect to cigarettes. Persons handling cigarettes within this state must refer to these statutes. The prohibited activities include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) Transportation, possession, or receiving 10,000 or fewer cigarettes.
Transportation, possession or receiving 10,000 or fewer unstamped cigarettes is prohibited unless the notice requirements set forth in RCW 82.24.250
have been met; failure to meet those notice requirements is a gross misdemeanor. RCW 82.24.110
(b) Transportation, possession, or receiving more than 10,000 cigarettes.
Transportation, possession, or receiving more than 10,000 unstamped cigarettes is prohibited unless the notice requirements set forth in RCW 82.24.250
have been met; failure to meet those notice requirements is a felony. RCW 82.24.110
(c) Forgery or counterfeiting of stamps.
Alteration, fabrication, forgery, and counterfeiting of stamps are felonies. RCW 82.24.100
(d) Counterfeit cigarettes.
The manufacture, sale, or possession of counterfeit cigarettes in this state is a felony. RCW 82.24.570
(604) Search, seizure, and forfeiture.
The department or the liquor control board may search for, seize, and subsequently dispose of unstamped cigarette packages and containers, counterfeit cigarettes, conveyances of all kinds (including aircraft, vehicles, and vessels) used for the transportation of unstamped and/or counterfeit cigarettes, and vending machines used for the sale of unstamped and/or counterfeit cigarettes. See RCW 82.24.130
, et seq., for provisions relating to search, seizure, and forfeiture of property, possible redemption of property, and for treatment of such property in the absence of redemption.
provides a penalty for failure to affix the cigarette stamps or to cause the stamps to be affixed as required, or to pay any tax due under chapter 82.24
RCW. In addition to the tax deemed due, a penalty equal to the greater of $10.00 per package of unstamped cigarettes or $250.00 will be assessed. Interest is also assessed on the amount of the tax at the rate as computed under RCW 82.32.050
(2) from the date the tax became due until the date of payment. The department may, in its sole discretion, cancel all or part of the penalty for good cause.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300 and 82.01.060(2). 10-10-033, § 458-20-186, filed 4/26/10, effective 5/27/10; 07-04-119, § 458-20-186, filed 2/7/07, effective 3/10/07. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.24.235, 82.32.300, and 82.01.060(1). 05-02-035, § 458-20-186, filed 12/30/04, effective 1/30/05. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300. 94-10-062, § 458-20-186, filed 5/3/94, effective 6/3/94; 90-24-036, § 458-20-186, filed 11/30/90, effective 1/1/91; 90-04-039, § 458-20-186, filed 1/31/90, effective 3/3/90; 87-19-007 (Order ET 87-5), § 458-20-186, filed 9/8/87; 83-07-032 (Order ET 83-15), § 458-20-186, filed 3/15/83; Order ET 75-1, § 458-20-186, filed 5/2/75; Order ET 73-2, § 458-20-186, filed 11/9/73; Order ET 71-1, § 458-20-186, filed 7/22/71; Order ET 70-3, § 458-20-186 (Rule 186), filed 5/29/70, effective 7/1/70.]