Facts: Respondent G-P Gypsum Corporation filed suit against the petitioner Department of Revenue in the Superior Court for Thurston County seeking a refund of use taxes that had been levied against it by the city of Tacoma pursuant to Washington Revised Code §82.14.230 (which permits municipalities to impose use taxes upon the use of natural gas) as a result of its use of natural gas in the process of manufacturing wallboard at its plant in Tacoma. G-P Gypsum claimed that it was exempt from the tax due to the fact that it acquired possession of the natural gas it used outside of the city of Tacoma and its activities therefore fell outside of the definition of “use” under Washington Revised Code §82.12.010(2) that is incorporated by §82.14.230. The trial court dismissed G-P Gypsum’s claim, ruling that §82.12.010(2), which defines use as the initial assumption of dominion or control, did not govern the interpretation of §82.14.230. Upon appeal, the Washington Court of Appeals reversed, holding that §82.14.230 incorporates §82.12.010(2) and that the plain meaning of §82.12.010(2) exempted G-P Gypsum from Tacoma’s natural gas use tax. The Department of Revenue appealed this decision to the Supreme Court of Washington.
Question(s): Is the definition of “use” under §82.14.230 limited to the initial assumption of dominion or control over property?
Conclusion: Justice Stephens’ opinion for the Court reversed the Washington Court of Appeals and concluded that G-P Gypsum was subject to Tacoma’s natural gas use tax despite the fact that it took possession of the natural gas it used outside of the city of Tacoma as G-P Gypsum used natural gas in the manner in which the term “use” is ordinarily defined and as the intent of the drafters of §82.14.230 was to allow municipalities to tax activities such as those engaged in by G-P Gypsum that would otherwise have avoided local utility taxes.
Petitioner: Department of Revenue
(Counsel: Peter Gonick)
Respondent: G-P Gypsum Corporation
(Counsel: Franklin G. Dinces and Geoffrey P. Knudsen)
- Amicus of City of Seattle
- Amicus of City of Seattle and Awb
- Amicus of City of Tacoma
- Amicus of City of Tacoma in Support of Dept of Revenue
- Amicus of WSAMA
- Answer to Amici
- Answer to Amicus City of Tacoma
- Answer to Amicus of City of Seattle,et Al
- Appellant Brief
- Petition for Review
- Respondent Brief
- Statement of Additional Auth
- Supplemental Brief of Respondent
Argument: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 10:00am
[Source: TVW, http://tvw.org]
Audio: Washington Supreme Court
Decided: Thursday, July 29th, 2010
Prevailing Party: Department of Revenue (Petitioner)
Court: Madsen1 Court (2010-)
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. Each opinion should appear next to the Justice who authored it.