Frequently asked questions about rule making

What is rule making?

Rule making is when the Department of Revenue (DOR) proposes, drafts and adopts rules to implement new state laws, provide more detail to the laws passed, and provide additional guidance for taxpayers to make understanding their tax reporting responsibility easier. These rules are then codified in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) and published by the Office of the Code Reviser. The Washington State Legislature guides all state rule making through a law known as the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Chapter 34.05 RCW. All state agencies must follow the requirements of the APA.

Who coordinates rule making at DOR?

The law requires each agency to designate a rules coordinator. The coordinator is responsible for maintaining records of rule actions and ensuring the Department responds to all public rule inquiries. Atif Aziz is DOR’s Rules Coordinator.

What is a WAC ?

WAC stands for Washington Administrative Code. State agencies adopt rules (WACs) to implement state laws. DOR rules are found under Title 458 WAC.

What do the WAC numbers mean?

Example: 458-20-101

“458”
This is the Title number.
“20”
(Written as Chapter 458-20 WAC).
This number represents a chapter within a given title.
“101”
(written as WAC 458-20-101).
This number represents a section within the chapter.

Where can I get copies of WACs and RCWs?

The Revised Code of Washington is published by the Office of the Code Reviser here. The Excise tax laws are published here.

When rules are adopted and codified in the Washington Administrative Code (WAC), they are published by the Office of the Code Reviser here. More specifically, the Department of Revenue’s rules are here.

Additionally, the Department of Revenue provides multiple resources on its webpage for looking up rules and other information published by the Department. Some key resources you may be interested include:

What is an emergency rule?

An emergency rule is effective immediately upon filing with the Office of the Code Reviser. There is no comment period. However, a person may petition the governor within seven days of the rule adoption requesting the immediate repeal of the emergency rule.

A rule can be adopted on an emergency basis if the Department has good cause per RCW 35.05.350. An emergency rule is effective for 120 days after adoption.

Generally, the Department will file an emergency rule, but also begin standard rule making efforts to adopt a permanent rule that does have comment periods.

What are the major phases in the rule-making process?

Please refer to our Understanding & Participating in the Rulemaking Process.

How long does it take DOR to adopt a rule?

Generally, it takes about 8 months to a year to adopt a rule through the standard process. The expedited rule making process generally takes three to six months.

Where can I get information about DOR’s Proposed Rules?

The Office of the Code Reviser publishes all proposed rule making efforts in the Washington State Register.

The Department of Revenue also provides an actively updated Online Rules Agenda that lists all of the rule making efforts going on every six months.

You can also sign up on our rules notification list here. Once you become a subscriber the Department will notify you by e-mail of rule-making actions from preproposal to adoption. The Department will also notify you of Interpretive Statements (such as, Excise and Property Tax Advisories) issued or canceled.

When can I comment on a proposed rule?

Each step in the rule making process has a comment period except for the final action (CR103) adopting the rule. Please see our Online Rules Agenda for the comment period of any specific rule, as well as our rule making calendar.

How do I submit formal comments that become part of the official record?

Each CR-form lists the Department’s assigned rule drafter and includes the contact information for submitting comments that become part of the official record. You may also submit formal comments to Rules@dor.wa.gov. Or via regular mail to:

Department of Revenue
Interpretations and Technical Advice Division
Post Office Box 47453
Olympia, Washington 98504-7453

You can also participate in our public meetings and public hearings. All public meetings and public hearings are recorded and become part of the official record for each rule adoption process.

How can I make sure my comments are effective?

Providing examples of how the language in a proposed or pre-proposed rule draft will impact taxpayers are the most helpful and effective comments for the Department. We try to provide a rule draft at all stages of the rule adoption process. While a rule draft is only required with a CR102 or CR105 filing, we find we have better discussions in public meetings and public hearings, as well as receive better written comments, if we are able to provide a draft rule at all stages of the rule making process. However it does depend on the rule.

How will I know if and how DOR responds to my comments?

We will respond with an acknowledgement reply to all comments received in the rule making process. Additionally, all comments received at the CR102 are summarized in the Concise Explanatory Statement that is part of the official record. Additionally, the Concise Explanatory Statement is sent out to everyone who participated in the rule making process upon adoption of the rule.

What if I have an idea about how to make an existing rule better or a suggestion for a new rule?

We would love to hear from you. Please send your ideas and comments to Rules@dor.wa.gov.