Other miscellaneous taxes

Refuse collection tax

Indians and Indian tribes are not subject to the refuse collection tax for service provided in Indian country, regardless of whether the refuse collection company hauls the refuse off of Indian country. See our Solid Waste Collection/Disposal and Recycling Businesses guide.

Leasehold excise tax

Chapter 82.29A imposes a tax Indians and Indian tribes in Indian country are not subject to the leasehold excise tax. Leasehold interests held by non-enrolled persons are subject to the leasehold excise tax.

However, a leasehold excise tax exemption is provided under RCW 82.29A.130(7) for all leasehold interests in any real property of any Indian or Indian tribe, band, or community that is held in trust by the United States or is subject to a restriction against alienation imposed by the United States: PROVIDED, that this exemption shall apply only where it is determined that contract rent paid is greater than or equal to 90% of fair market rental, to be determined by the Department of Revenue using the same criteria used to establish taxable rent in RCW 82.29A.020(2)(b).

Fish tax

Chapter 82.27 RCW imposes a tax on the commercial possession of enhanced food fish, which includes shellfish. The tax is imposed on the fish buyer. The measure of the tax is the value of the enhanced food fish at the point of landing.

A credit is allowed against the amount of tax owed for any tax previously paid on the same food fish to any legally established taxing authority, which includes Indian tribes. Transactions involving treaty fish are not subject to the fish tax, regardless of where the transaction takes place.

Credit against the fish tax is authorized for tax paid on the same fish to any legally established taxing authority.

Tobacco tax

The tobacco tax is imposed on "distributors" as that term is defined in RCW 82.26.010. Tobacco tax is not imposed on Indian persons or tribes who meet the definition of distributor under chapter 82.26 RCW and who take delivery of the tobacco in Indian country. Persons who purchase tobacco products from Indians for resale who are exempt from the tobacco tax are subject to tobacco tax on the product.

Property tax

Property taxes on real property

Real property usually means buildings and lands. Generally, when Indian lands are held in trust by the Federal Government, that property and the improvements on it are exempt from property taxes. When land is owned by an Indian or Indian tribe under a "fee" patent, the property is subject to property taxes.

The courts have found that the underlying legal issue for property taxation of Indian property is whether the land is "alienable." More specifically, whether the Indian owner is free to sell or transfer the property. If a tribe or tribal member owns real property in such a way that they are free to sell or transfer it, the property is subject to property taxes. If the federal government holds the property in trust or puts other restrictions on the Indian's ability to sell or transfer the property, it is exempt from property tax.

Certain properties that federally recognized tribes own in "fee" may also be exempt beginning with the 2004 assessment year. The 2004 legislature amended property tax statutes to exempt property owned in "fee" by these tribes if that property is used for essential government services. Essential government services means " services such as tribal administration, public facilities, fire, police, public health, education, sewer, water, environmental and land use, transportation, and utility services."

Property taxes on personal property

Personal property is defined as the moveable furnishings or equipment used in business. When personal property is owned by a tribe or tribal member and kept in "Indian Country," it is exempt. Indian Country includes trust lands allocated any where and all land within the boundaries of a reservation. The status of reservation land (fee or trust) does not usually affect the taxability of personal property, as long as that land is within Indian Country.

Personal property owned by a tribe or tribal member that is not kept in Indian Country may become subject to taxation. However, personal property owned by tribal Indians and used outside of Indian Country in the treaty fishery remains exempt. The amendments to property tax statutes approved by the 2004 legislature also provide exemption for personal property kept outside of Indian country when that property is used for essential government services.

The taxability of mobile homes in Indian Country depends on both the ownership and whether that mobile home becomes affixed to the land, losing its identity as a moveable piece of personal property. For instance, if a mobile home owned by a tribal member becomes affixed to land that is owned in fee (alienable), it becomes taxable just like the land. Also, personal property owned by an Indian that is not a member of the tribe on whose reservation the property is kept, would be subject to property tax.

If you have questions about specific property tax situations relating to Indian property, you may call the Property Tax Division at 360-570-5900.

Real estate excise tax

The real estate excise tax is imposed on the seller. A sale of land located in Indian country by a tribe or a tribal member is not subject to real estate excise tax. A sale of land located within Indian country by a nonmember to the tribe or to a tribal member is subject to real estate excise tax.

Timber excise tax

Payment of the timber excise tax is the obligation of the harvester. The tribe or tribal members are not subject to the timber excise tax in Indian country.

Generally, timber excise tax is due from a nonmember who harvests timber on fee land within Indian country.

Timber excise tax is not due if the timber being harvested is on trust land or is owned by the tribe and located in Indian country, regardless of the identity of the harvester.

For specific information on timber tax, you may contact the department's Timber Tax Program at 360-534-1324.

Tax on telephone services

Indian tribes and enrolled Indians living on the reservation in which they are enrolled are not subject to payment of retail sales tax upon the purchase of telephone services delivered to them within the reservation.

Also exempt are telephone services purchased by Indian businesses operated by Indians within the reservations in which they are an enrolled member.

An exemption statement may be submitted to the telephone service provider by an individual Indian, or, a consolidated tribal statement may be provided by the Indian tribes for enrolled tribal members entitled to the exemption. An exemption statement is required to be updated or renewed only upon a change of address or location of the Indian, and, in the case of a tribal exemption, need only reflect additions and/or deletions.