458-20-251  <<  458-20-252 >>   458-20-254

Hazardous substance tax.

(1) Introduction. Under chapter 82.21 RCW (referred to in this rule as the "law"), a hazardous substance tax is imposed upon the wholesale value of certain substances and products, with specific credits and exemptions provided. The tax is an excise tax upon the privilege of possessing hazardous substances or products in this state.
(a) Chapter 82.21 RCW defines certain specific substances as being hazardous and includes other substances by reference to federal legislation governing such things. It also provides authority to the director of the state department of ecology to designate by rule any other substance or product as hazardous that could present a threat to human health or the environment. (Chapter 173-342 WAC.)
(b) Chapter 82.21 RCW is administered exclusively under this rule. The law relates exclusively to the possession of hazardous substances and products. The law does not relate to waste, releases or spills of any materials, cleanup, compensation, or liability for such things, nor does tax liability under the law depend upon such factors. The incidence or privilege that incurs tax liability is simply the possession of the hazardous substance or product, whether or not such possession actually causes any hazardous or dangerous circumstance.
(c) The hazardous substance tax is imposed upon any possession of a hazardous substance or product in this state by any person who is not expressly exempt of the tax. However, it is the intent of the law that the economic burden of the tax should fall upon the first such possession in this state. Therefore, the law provides that if the tax has not been paid upon any hazardous substance or product the department of revenue may collect the tax from any person who has had possession. The amount of tax paid then constitutes a debt owed by the first person having had taxable possession to the person who pays the tax.
(2) Definitions. For purposes of this rule the following definitions apply.
(a) "Tax" means the hazardous substance tax imposed under chapter 82.21 RCW.
(b) "Hazardous substance" means:
(i) Any substance that, on March 1, 2002, is a hazardous substance under section 101(14) of the Federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. Sec. 9601(14), as amended by Public Law 99-499 on October 17, 1986, except that hazardous substance does not include the following noncompound metals when in solid form in a particle larger than one hundred micrometers (0.004 inches) in diameter: Antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, nickel, selenium, silver, thallium, or zinc. These substances consist of chemicals and elements in their purest form. A CERCLA substance that contains water is still considered pure. Combinations of CERCLA substances as ingredients together with nonhazardous substances will not be taxable unless the end product is specifically designated as a hazardous substance by the department of ecology;
(ii) Petroleum products (further defined below);
(iii) Pesticide products required to be registered under section 136a of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), 7 U.S.C. Sec. 136 et seq., as amended by Public Law 104-170 on August 3, 1996; and
(iv) Anything else enumerated as a hazardous substance in chapter 173-342 WAC by the department of ecology.
(c) "Product(s)" means any item(s) containing a combination of ingredients, some of which are hazardous substances and some of which are not hazardous substances.
(d) "Petroleum product" means any plant condensate, lubricating oil, crankcase motor oil, gasoline, aviation fuel, kerosene, diesel motor fuel, benzol, fuel oil, residual fuel, asphalt base, liquefied or liquefiable gases, such as butane, ethane and propane, and every other product derived from the refining of crude oil, but the term does not include crude oil.
The term "derived from the refining of crude oil" as used herein, means produced because of and during petroleum processing. "Petroleum processing" includes all activities of a commercial or industrial nature wherein labor or skill is applied, by hand or machinery, to crude oil or any byproduct of crude oil so that as a result thereof a fuel or lubricant is produced for sale or commercial or industrial use. "Fuel" includes all combustible gases and liquids suitable for the generation of energy. The term "derived from the refining of crude oil" does not mean petroleum products that are manufactured from refined oil derivatives, such as petroleum jellies, cleaning solvents, asphalt paving, etc. Such further manufactured products become hazardous substances only when expressly so designated by the director of the department of ecology in chapter 173-342 WAC.
(e) "Possession" means control of a hazardous substance located within this state and includes both actual and constructive possession.
(i) "Control" means the power to sell or use a hazardous substance or to authorize the sale or use by another.
(ii) "Actual possession" occurs when the person with control has physical possession.
(iii) "Constructive possession" occurs when the person with control does not have physical possession.
(f) "Previously taxed hazardous substance" means a hazardous substance upon which the tax has been paid and which has not been remanufactured or reprocessed in any manner.
(i) Remanufacturing or reprocessing does not include the mere repackaging or recycling for beneficial reuse. Rather, these terms embrace activities of a commercial or industrial nature involving the application of skill or labor by hand or machinery so that as a result, a new or different substance or product is produced.
(ii) "Recycling for beneficial reuse" means the recapturing of any used substance or product, for the sole purpose of extending the useful life of the original substance or product in its previously taxed form, without adding any new, different, or additional ingredient or component.
(iii) Example: Used motor oil drained from a crankcase, filtered, and containerized for reuse is not remanufactured or reprocessed. If the tax was paid on possession of the oil before use, the used oil is a previously taxed substance.
(iv) Possessions of used hazardous substances by persons who merely operate recycling centers or collection stations and who do not reprocess or remanufacture the used substances are not taxable possessions.
(g) "Wholesale value" is the tax measure or base. It means the fair market value determined by the wholesale selling price.
In cases where no sale has occurred, wholesale value means the fair market wholesale value, determined as nearly as possible according to the wholesale selling price at the place of use of similar substances of like quality and character. In such cases the wholesale value shall be the "value of the products" as determined under the alternate methods set forth in WAC 458-20-112.
(h) "Selling price" means consideration of any kind expressed in terms of money paid or delivered by a buyer to a seller, without any deductions for any costs whatsoever. Bona fide discounts actually granted to a buyer result in reductions in the selling price rather than deductions.
(i) "State," for purposes of the credit provisions of the hazardous substance tax, means:
(i) The state of Washington.
(ii) States of the United States or any political subdivisions of such other states.
(iii) The District of Columbia.
(iv) Territories and possessions of the United States.
(v) Any foreign country or political subdivision thereof.
(j) "Person" means any natural or artificial person, including a business organization of any kind, and has the further meaning defined in RCW 82.04.030.
The term "natural person," for purposes of the tax exemption in subsection (4)(b) of this rule regarding substances used for personal or domestic purposes, means human beings in a private, as opposed to a business sense.
(k) Except as otherwise expressly defined in this rule, the definitions of terms provided in chapters 82.04, 82.08, and 82.12 RCW apply equally for this rule. Other terms not expressly defined in these chapters or this rule are to be given their common and ordinary meanings.
(3) Tax rate and measure. The tax is imposed upon the privilege of possessing a hazardous substance in this state. The tax rate is seven tenths of one percent (.007). The tax measure or base is the wholesale value of the substance, as defined in this rule.
(4) Exemptions. The following are expressly exempt from the tax:
(a) Any successive possessions of any previously taxed hazardous substances are tax exempt.
(i) Any person who possesses a hazardous substance that has been acquired from any other person who is registered with the department of revenue and doing business in this state may take a written statement certifying that the tax has been previously paid. Such certifications must be taken in good faith and must be in the form provided in subsection (14) of this rule. Blanket certifications may be taken, as appropriate, which must be renewed at intervals not to exceed four years. These certifications may be used for any single hazardous substance or any broad classification of hazardous substances, e.g., "all chemicals."
(ii) In the absence of taking such certifications, the person who possesses any hazardous substance must retain proofs that it purchased or otherwise acquired the substance from a previous possessor in this state. It is not necessary for subsequent possessors to obtain certificates of previously taxed hazardous substances in order to perfect their tax exemption. Documentation that establishes any evidence of previous tax payment by another person will suffice. This includes invoices or billings from in-state suppliers that reflect their payment of the tax or simple bills of lading or delivery documents revealing an in-state source of the hazardous substances.
(iii) This exemption for taxes previously paid is available for any person in successive possession of a taxed hazardous substance even though the previous payment may have been satisfied by the use of credits or offsets available to the previous person in possession.
(iv) Example. Company A brings a substance into this state upon which it has paid a similar hazardous substance tax in another state. Company A takes a credit against its Washington tax liability in the amount of the other state's tax paid. It then sells the substance to Company B, and provides Company B with a certificate of previously taxed substance. Company B's possession is tax exempt even though Company A has not directly paid Washington's tax but has used a credit against its Washington liability.
(b) Any possession of a hazardous substance by a natural person for use of a personal or domestic nature, rather than a business nature, is tax exempt.
(i) This exemption extends to relatives, as well as other natural persons who reside with the person possessing the substance, and also to regular employees of that person who use the substance for the benefit of that person.
(ii) This exemption does not extend to possessions by any independent contractors hired by natural persons, which contractors themselves provide the hazardous substance.
(iii) Examples: Possessions of spray materials by an employee-gardener or soaps and cleaning solvents by an employee-domestic servant, when such substances are provided by the natural person for whose domestic benefit such things are used, are tax exempt. Also, possessions of fuel by private persons for use in privately owned vehicles are tax exempt.
(c) Any possession of any hazardous substance, other than pesticides or petroleum products, possessed by a retailer for making sales to consumers, in an amount that is determined to be "minimal" by the department of ecology. That department has determined that the term "minimal" means less than $1,000.00 worth of such hazardous substances measured by their wholesale value, possessed during any calendar month.
(d) Possessions of alumina or natural gas are tax exempt.
(e) Persons or activities that the state is prohibited from taxing under the United States Constitution are tax exempt.
(i) This exemption extends to the U.S. government, its agencies and instrumentalities, and to any possession the taxation of which has been expressly reserved or preempted under the laws of the United States.
(ii) The tax will not apply with respect to any possession of any hazardous substance purchased, extracted, produced or manufactured outside this state that is shipped or delivered into this state until the interstate transportation of such substance has finally ended in this state. Thus, out-of-state sellers or producers need not pay the tax on substances shipped directly to customers in this state. The customers must pay the tax upon their first possession unless otherwise expressly exempt.
(iii) Out-of-state sellers or producers will be subject to tax upon substances shipped or delivered to warehouses or other in-state facilities owned, leased, or otherwise controlled by them.
(iv) However, the tax will not apply with respect to possessions of substances that are only temporarily stored or possessed in this state in connection with through, interstate movement of the substances from points of origin to points of destination both of which are outside of this state.
(f) The former exemption for petroleum products for export sale or use outside this state as fuel was effectively repealed by I-97. There are no exemptions under the law for any possessions of hazardous substances in this state simply because such substances may later be sold or used outside this state.
(g) Any possession of an agricultural crop protection product that is solely for use by a farmer or certified applicator as an agricultural crop protection product and is warehoused in this state or transported to or from this state is tax exempt, provided that the person possessing the product does not use, manufacture, package for sale, or sell the product in this state. The following definitions apply throughout this subsection unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(i) "Agricultural crop protection product" means a chemical regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. Sec. 136 as amended as of September 1, 2015, when used to prevent, destroy, repel, mitigate, or control predators, diseases, weeds, or other pests.
(ii) "Certified applicator" has the same meaning as provided in RCW 17.21.020.
(iii) "Farmer" has the same meaning as in RCW 82.04.213.
(iv) "Manufacturing" includes mixing or combining agricultural crop protection products with other chemicals or other agricultural crop protection products.
(v) "Package for sale" includes transferring agricultural crop protection products from one container to another, including the transfer of fumigants and other liquid or gaseous chemicals from one tank to another.
(vi) "Use" has the same meaning as in RCW 82.12.010.
(5) Credits. There are three distinct kinds of tax credits against liability that are available under the law.
(a) A credit may be taken by any manufacturer or processor of a hazardous substance produced from ingredients or components that are themselves hazardous substances, and upon which the hazardous substance tax has been paid by the same person or is due for payment by the same person.
(i) Example. A manufacturer possesses hazardous chemicals that it combines to produce an acid which is also designated as a hazardous substance or product. When it reports the tax upon the wholesale value of the acid it may use a credit to offset the tax by the amount of tax it has already paid or reported upon the hazardous chemical ingredients or components. In this manner the intent of the law to tax hazardous substances only once is fulfilled.
(ii) Under circumstances where the hazardous ingredient and the hazardous end product are both possessed by the same person during the same tax reporting period, the tax on the respective substances must be computed and the former must be offset against the latter so that the tax return reflects the tax liability after the credit adjustment.
(iii) This credit may be taken only by manufacturers who have the first possession in this state of both the hazardous ingredients and the hazardous end product.
(b) A credit may be taken in the amount of the hazardous substance tax upon the value of fuel that is carried from this state in the fuel tank of any airplane, ship, truck, or other vehicle.
(i) The credit may be claimed only for the amount of tax reported or actually due to be paid on the fuel, not the amount representing the value of the fuel.
(ii) The purpose of this credit is to exclude from taxation any possessions of fuel that remains in the fuel tanks of any carrier vehicles powered by such fuel when they leave this state, regardless of where or from whom such fuel-in-tanks was acquired.
(iii) The nature of this credit is such that it generally has application only for interstate and foreign private or common carriers that carry fuel into this state and/or purchase fuel in this state. The intent is that the tax will apply only to so much of such fuel as is actually consumed by such carriers within this state.
(iv) In order to equitably and efficiently administer this tax credit, any fuel that is brought into this state in carrier vehicle fuel tanks must be accounted for separately from fuel that is purchased in this state for use in such fuel tanks. Formulas approved by the department of revenue for reporting the amount of fuel consumed in this state for purposes of this tax or other excise tax purposes will satisfy the separate accounting required under this subsection.
(v) Fuel-in-tanks brought into this state must be fully reported for tax and then the credit must be taken in the amount of such fuel that is taken back out of this state. This is to be done on the same periodic excise tax return so that the net effect is that the tax is actually paid only upon the portion of fuel consumed here.
(vi) The credit for fuel-in-tanks purchased in this state must be accounted for by using a fuel-in-tanks credit certificate in substantially the following form:
Certificate of Credit for Fuel Carried
from this State in Fuel Tanks
I hereby certify that the petroleum products specified herein, purchased by or transferred to the undersigned, from (name of seller or transferor), are entitled to the credit for fuel that is carried from this state in the fuel tank of any airplane, ship, truck, or other vehicle operated by a private or common carrier in interstate or foreign commerce. I will become liable for and pay the taxes due upon all or any part of such fuel that is not so carried from this state. This certification is given with full knowledge of, and subject to the legally prescribed penalties for fraud and tax evasion.
Registration No.
. . . . 
(if applicable)
Type of Business
. . . . 
Firm Name
. . . . 
Business Address
. . . . 
Registered Name
. . . . 
(if different)
Tax Reporting Agent
. . . . 
(if applicable)
Authorized Signature
. . . . 
. . . . 
Identity of Fuel
. . . . 
(kind and amount by volume)
Date: . . . .
(vii) This certificate may be executed and provided to any possessor of fuel in this state, throughout the chain of distribution, with respect to fuel that ultimately will be sold and delivered into any carrier's fuel tanks in this state. Thus, refiners or manufacturers will take such certificates directly from carriers or from their wholesale purchasers who will sell to such carriers. Similarly, fuel dealers and distributors will take such certificates from carriers to whom they sell such fuel. These certificates must be retained as a permanent part of such seller's business records.
(viii) Persons who execute and provide these credit certificates to their fuel suppliers must retain suitable purchase and sales records as may be necessary to determine the amount of tax for which such persons may be liable.
(ix) Blanket certificates may be used to cover recurrent purchases of fuel by the same purchaser. Such blanket certificates must be renewed every two years.
(c) A credit may be taken against the tax owed in this state in the amount of any other state's hazardous substance tax that has been paid by the same person measured by the wholesale value of the same hazardous substance.
(i) In order for this credit to apply, the other state's tax must be significantly similar to Washington's tax in all its various respects. The taxable incident must be possessing the substance; the tax purpose must be that the substance is hazardous; and the tax measure must be stated in terms of the wholesale value of the substance, without deductions for costs of doing business, such that the other state's tax does not constitute an income tax or added value tax.
(ii) This credit may be taken for the amount of any other state's qualifying tax that has actually been paid before Washington state's tax is incurred because the substance was previously possessed by the same person in another taxing jurisdiction.
(iii) The amount of credit is limited to the amount of tax paid in this state upon possession of the same hazardous substance in this state. Also, the credit may not be applied against any tax paid or owed in this state other than the hazardous substance tax imposed under chapter 82.21 RCW.
(iv) Exchange agreements under which hazardous substances or products possessed in this state are exchanged through any accounts crediting system with like substances possessed in other states do not qualify for this credit. The substance taxed in another state, and for which this credit is sought, must be actually, physically possessed in this state.
(v) Persons claiming this credit must maintain records necessary to verify that the credit taking qualifications have been met. Additional information regarding recordkeeping requirements is provided in WAC 458-20-19301. The department of revenue will publish an excise tax bulletin listing other states' taxes that qualify for this credit.
(6) Newly defined hazardous substances. Under chapter 82.21 RCW the director of the department of ecology may identify and designate other substances or products as being hazardous substances for purposes of the tax. The director of the department of ecology may also delete substances or products previously designated as hazardous substances. Such actions are done by amending chapter 173-342 WAC.
(a) The law allows the addition or deletion of substances or products as hazardous substances by rule amendments, no more often than twice in any calendar year.
(b) When such additions or deletions are made, they do not take effect for tax purposes until the first day of the following month that is at least thirty days after the effective date of rule amendment by the department of ecology.
(i) Example. The department of ecology amends chapter 173-342 WAC by adding a new substance and the effective date of the amendment is June 15th. Possession of the substance does not become taxable until August 1st.
(ii) The tax is owed by any person who has possession of the newly designated hazardous substance upon the tax effective date as explained herein. It is immaterial that the person in possession on that date was not the first person in possession of the substance in this state before it was designated as hazardous.
(7) Recurrent tax liability. It is the intent of the law that all hazardous substances possessed in this state should incur this tax liability only once unless they are expressly exempt. This is true of hazardous ingredients of products as well as the manufactured end product itself, if designated as a hazardous substance. The exemption for previously taxed hazardous substances does not apply to "products" that have been manufactured or remanufactured simply because an ingredient or ingredients of that product may have already been taxed when possessed by the manufacturer. Instead of an exemption, manufacturers in possession of both the hazardous ingredient(s) and end product(s) should use the credit provision explained at subsection (5)(a) of this rule.
(a) However, the term "product" is defined to mean only an item or items that contain a combination of both hazardous substance(s) and nonhazardous substance(s). The term does not include combinations of only hazardous substances. Thus, possessions of substances produced by combining other hazardous substances upon all of which the tax has previously been paid will not again be taxable.
(b) When any hazardous substance(s) is first produced during and because of any physical combination or chemical reaction that occurs in a manufacturing or processing activity, the intermediate possession of such substance(s) within the manufacturing or processing plant is not considered a taxable possession if the substance(s) becomes a component or ingredient of the product being manufactured or processed or is otherwise consumed during the manufacturing or processing activity.
However, when any intermediate hazardous substance is first produced during a manufacturing or processing activity and is withdrawn for sale or transfer outside of the manufacturing or processing plant, a taxable first possession occurs.
(c) Concentrations or dilutions for shipment or storage. The mere addition or withdrawal of water or other nonhazardous substances to or from hazardous substances designated under CERCLA or FIFRA for the sole purpose of transportation, storage, or the later manufacturing use of such substances does not result in any new hazardous product.
(8) How and when to pay tax. The tax must be reported on a special line of the combined excise tax return designated "hazardous substances." It is due for payment together with the timely filing of the return upon which it is reported, covering the tax reporting period during which the hazardous substance(s) is first possessed within this state. Any person who is not expressly exempt of the tax and who possesses any hazardous substance in this state, without having proof that the tax has previously been paid on that substance, must report and pay the tax.
(a) It may be that the person who purchases a hazardous substance will not have billing information from which to determine the wholesale value of the substance when the tax return for the period of possession is due. In such cases the tax is due for payment no later than the next regular reporting due date following the reporting period in which the substance(s) is first possessed.
(b) The taxable incident or event is the possession of the substance. Tax is due for payment by the purchaser of any hazardous substance whether or not the purchase price has been paid in part or in full.
(c) Special provision for manufacturers, refiners, and processors. Manufacturers, refiners, and processors who possess hazardous substances are required to report the tax and take any available exemptions and credits only at the time that such hazardous substances are withdrawn from storage for purposes of their sale, transfer, remanufacture, or consumption.
(9) How and when to claim credits. Credits should be claimed and offset against tax liability reported on the same excise tax return when possible. The tax return form provides a line for reporting tax on hazardous substances and a line for taking credits as an offset against the tax reported. It is not required that any documents or other evidences of entitlement to credits be submitted with the report. Such proofs must be retained in permanent records for the purpose of verification of credits taken.
(10) Special provision for consumer/first possessors. Under circumstances where the consumer is the first person in possession of any nonexempt hazardous substance (e.g., substances imported by the consumer), or where the consumer is the person who must pay the tax upon substances previously possessed in this state (fuel purchased for export in fuel tanks) the consumer's tax measure will be eighty percent of its retail purchase price. This provision is intended to achieve a tax measure equivalent to the wholesale value.
(11) Hazardous substances or products on consignment. Consignees who possess hazardous substances or products in this state with the power to sell such things, in their own name or on behalf of a disclosed or undisclosed consignor are liable for payment of the tax. The exemption for previously taxed substances is available for such consignees only if the consignors have paid the tax and the consignee has retained the certification or other proof of previous tax payment referred to in subsection (4)(a)(i) and (ii) of this rule. Possession of consigned hazardous substances by a consignee does not constitute constructive possession by the consignor.
(12) Hazardous substances untraceable to source. Various circumstances may arise whereby a person will possess hazardous substances in this state, some of which have been previously taxed in this or other states and some of which may not. In such cases formulary tax reporting may be used, only upon a special ruling by the department of revenue.
Example. Fungible petroleum products from sources both within and outside this state are commingled in common storage facilities. Formulary reporting is appropriate based upon volume percentages reflecting the ratio of in-state production to out-of-state production or other form of acquisition.
(13) Administrative provisions. The provisions of chapter 82.32 RCW regarding due dates, reporting periods, tax return requirements, interest and penalties, tax audits and limitations, disputes and appeals, and all such general administrative provisions apply equally to the hazardous substance tax. Special requested rulings covering unique circumstances generally will be issued within sixty days from the date upon which complete information is provided to the department of revenue.
(14) Certification of previously taxed hazardous substance. Certification that the hazardous substance tax has already been paid by a person previously in possession of the substance(s) may be taken in substantially the following form:
I hereby certify that this purchase -
all purchases of
(omit one)
. . . . 
. . . . 
(identify substance(s) purchased)
. . . .,
(name of purchaser)
who possesses registration no.
. . . .,
(buyer's number, if registered)
consists of the purchase of hazardous substance(s) or product(s) upon which the hazardous substance tax has been paid in full by a person previously in possession of the substance(s) or product(s) in this state. This certificate is given with full knowledge of, and subject to the legally prescribed penalties for fraud and tax evasion, and with the full knowledge and agreement that the undersigned hereby assumes any liability for hazardous substance tax which has not been previously paid because of possession of the hazardous substance(s) or product(s) identified herein.
. . . . 
The registered seller named below personally paid the tax upon possession of the hazardous substances.
. . . . 
A person in possession of the hazardous substances prior to the possession of the registered seller named below paid the tax.
(Check the appropriate line.)
Name of registered seller . . . .
Registration No. . . . .
Firm name . . . .
Address . . . .
Type of business . . . .
Authorized signature . . . .
Title . . . .
Date . . . .
[Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300 and 82.01.060(2). WSR 17-01-155, § 458-20-252, filed 12/21/16, effective 1/21/17. Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300. WSR 89-16-091 (Order 89-12), § 458-20-252, filed 8/2/89, effective 9/2/89; WSR 89-10-051 (Order 89-1), § 458-20-252, filed 5/2/89; WSR 88-06-028 (Order 88-2), § 458-20-252, filed 2/26/88.]
Site Contents
Selected content listed in alphabetical order under each group