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Issaquah Law Group - Injury Litigation Attorneys

TRUST: Personal injuries are personal. Which is why the attorneys at ILG treat every client and every case differently. Because they are different, and extremely personal. ILG was founded on the principle that strong client relationships are the key to successful legal representation and strong relationships are built on trust. Trust that you will be heard. Trust that you will be protected. Trust that every effort will be made to see justice done in your case. The singular goal of every ILG attorney is to earn and preserve that trust.

EXPERIENCE: ILG attorneys have a broad base of litigation experience to draw on in all Federal and State courts from on-the-ground investigations to Supreme Court appeals and we bring this experience to bear on behalf of our clients in personal injury and wrongful death claims arising out of motor vehicle accidents, bus versus pedestrian accidents, defective and dangerous products, medical malpractice, slip/trip and fall accidents, and catastrophic losses due to fire.

LOCATION: We are located on the Eastside in Issaquah, convenient to Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Renton, Sammamish and North Bend. However, we provide legal services in King County, Pierce County, Snohomish County and throughout the entire state of Washington.

In addition, through The Amateur Law Professor Blog and LinkedIn postings, we share pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Supreme Court, as well as the pertinent opinions and decisions of the Washington State Courts of Appeal so that our clients can be as update to date on cutting legal issues as we are.

WA Legal Roundup - Washington State Supreme Court

Dot Foods, Inc. v. Dep't of Revenue

Tax stuff is boring, feel free to tune out now.

The Department of Revenue used to consider DOT exempt from the B&O tax under its out of state seller exemption. Dot sold through products through its direct seller representative, Dot Transportation, Inc.. The Department then changed the WAC and included Dot under the WAC.

Under the RCWs, Dot gets the exemption if:

[T]he out-of-state seller [makes] sales in this state exclusively to or through a direct seller's representative." RCW 82.04.423(1)(d). Under the statute, a "direct seller's representative" is one who buys, sells, or solicits the sale of consumer products in places other than a permanent retail establishment.

Seems to fit so far. Only Dot didn't sell solely consumer products. Also, without the involvement of Dot or DTI, some of the items ended up in retail establishments. Nevertheless, Dot got the exemption from 1997-2000, before the WAC was changed. The new WAC said regardless, if your stuff ends up on retail shelves, that you're subject to the B&O tax.

Now lets take a second to take this to the extreme. Dot sells to DTI who sells to a nursing home who sells surplus to Timmy T. Wholesaler who sells to Ma and Pa Corner Store, who puts it on the shelf. Seems a bit wrong to tax Dot for that, no?

As to whether selling non-consumer products triggers, the court looked to the lack of the word exclusively...which was missing from the above provision, but found in other provisions of the statute. The court also looked to the fact that the provisions contemplated a mix of retail and not retail, so why not a mix of consumer and non-consumer.

Now here's the part where it gets dicey. The court refused the interpretation found in the WACs based on the unambiguous meaning of the statute. Those of you remember from law school that statute trumps over reg. Therefore, if the statute was unambiguous in the above interpretation, a WAC in contradiction fails. However, you'll notice they used maxims of statutory interpretation other than plain and unambiguous language...referring to the how things are set up in the rest of the statute. Sorry Charlie, but you don't get to touch canons of construction unless the statute is ambiguous. Thus, there was room for interpretation by the agency, in which case, you're pretty much limited to nullifying WACs that are in direct contradiction to the statute and those that are the result of arbitrary and capricious agency decision.

The dissent also points out that exemptions are to be construed narrowly, not giving interpretations that widen the exemption. I tend to agree.

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