On April 11, 2023, the Court of Appeals of Washington, Division II issued a decision in the Antio, LLC v. Wash. State Dep't of Revenue (Antio) case. This decision addresses the taxability of investmentsThe Washington Supreme Court has accepted review of the Antio decision for the 2024 Spring termThe outcome of this case could have an impact on the Court of Appeals decision and the topic addressed in this article. Pending the Supreme Court decision, the Department will retain this historical guidance and will update the article as needed.

Gains realized from trading in stocks, bonds, or other evidences of indebtedness, interest income, dividends, and other investment related income are included in the term “gross income of the business” without any deduction for losses (RCW 82.04.080).

Deduction for amounts derived from investments

A B&O tax deduction is provided for amounts derived from investments (RCW 82.04.4281). This deduction generally does not include amounts received from loans, the extension of credit, revolving credit arrangements, installment sales, and similar interest income, except for some loans between subsidiary and parent entities.

Deduction not available for banking business, lending business, or security business

The deduction for amounts derived from investments is not available to a banking business, lending business, or security business. For this purpose, a security business is defined as a business, other than an issuer, in the business of effecting transactions in securities as a broker, dealer, or broker-dealer, as defined in the Securities Act of Washington (Chapter 21.20 RCW) or the federal Securities Act of 1933.

Generally, these laws require a broker, dealer, or broker-dealer to register with the Washington Department of Financial Institutions and/or the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A person who buys and sells securities for his or her own account, either individually or in a fiduciary capacity rather than as part of a regular business, is generally considered a trader rather than a dealer, broker, or broker-dealer, and not considered a security business. According to the SEC’s Guide to Broker Dealer Registration, the following characteristics are indicative of a dealer rather than a trader:

  • Advertising or otherwise letting others know that the person is in the business of buying and selling securities.
  • Doing business with the public (either retail or institutional).
  • Making a market in or quoting prices for the purchase and sale of one or more securities.
  • Participating in a selling group or otherwise underwriting securities.
  • Providing services to investors, such as handling money and securities, extending credit, or giving investment advice.
  • Writing derivatives contracts that are securities.

A high frequency of trading activity alone is not determinative if the other characteristics of the investing activity indicate the trading is not part of a regular business. A trader not meeting the characteristics of a broker, dealer, or broker-dealer is not a security business and would be eligible for the B&O tax deduction for amounts derived from investments. Additionally, most mutual funds, private investment funds, family trusts, and other collective investment vehicles are not a securities business, and are allowed the B&O tax deduction for amounts derived from investments.

Gross income of stockbrokers, security houses, banks, and other financial institutions

How gross income is calculated depends on the type of institution.

Stockbrokers and security houses: computed following WAC 458-20-162. Stockbrokers and security houses are not allowed a deduction for income derived from investments. Gross income includes amounts from interest, commissions, trading, dividends, and other sources. Gross income from trading is the amount received from the sale of stocks, bonds, and other securities over and above the cost or purchase price of such stocks, bonds and other securities.

Banks and other financial institutions: computed following WAC 458-20-146. Since banking and lending businesses are also not allowed the deduction for income derived from investments, gross income includes gains realized from trading in stocks, bonds, or other evidences of indebtedness, interest, discount, rents, royalties, fees, commissions, dividends, and other similar emoluments.

Compensation for rendition of services not derived from investments

Gross income from rendering services, such as investment advisory services, is generally subject to service and other activities B&O tax. This income is not deductible under RCW 82.04.4281, since it is derived from services rather than from investments.