Facts: Petitioner Washington Public Ports Association filed a petition in the Superior Court for Thurston County seeking a declaratory judgment invalidating the leasehold excise tax provisions of Washington Administrative Code §458-29A-500. The Public Ports Association asserted that the contested regulations were not authorized by §82.29A.050 and violated Article 7 §1 and Article 8 §5 and §7 of the Washington State Constitution insofar as they allowed the Department of Revenue to hold port districts liable for the payment of leasehold excise taxes when the districts failed to notify the Department of Revenue that their lessees had not paid the tax. The trial court denied the requested relief. The Public Ports Association appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Did the regulations contained in §458-29A-500 exceed the Department of Revenue’s statutory authority?
Are the regulations unconstitutional?
Conclusion: Justice Bridge’s opinion for a unanimous Court held that §82.29A.050 gave the Department of Revenue broad authority to hold public ports accountable for unpaid leasehold excise taxes, authority that encompassed the regulations in question. The Court also concluded that the regulations did not violate provisions in the Washington State Constitution prohibiting the imposition of property taxes upon publicly owned facilities as they collected taxes from private lessees for the use of public property and did not violate constitutional prohibitions against lending or giving public money or credit to private entities as the regulations served a public purpose.
Docket No. 71934-9
Petitioner: Washington Public Ports Association
(Counsel: George C. Mastrodonato, Michael B. King, and Robert F. Hauth)
Respondent: Department of Revenue
(Counsel: Christine O. Gregoire and David M. Hankins)
Argument: Wednesday, November 13, 2002 2:45pm
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, January 30th, 2003
Prevailing Party: Department of Revenue (Respondent)
Opinion: 148 Wn.2d 637 (2003)
Court: Alexander2 Court (2003-2004)
Note: We post only slip opinion(s) as published at the time of the decision. Please consult Washington Reports printed volumes for the opinion(s) in their final form.