Washington Tax Decision (WTD) Publication Comment Pilot Program

When a taxpayer seeks review of a tax assessment or tax refund denial, the Department issues a determination on that review to that specific taxpayer. The Department publishes some of these determinations as Washington Tax Decisions (WTD) under RCW 82.32.410. Determinations can be recommended for publication by anyone, both in and outside of the Department. Once recommended, the proposed WTD goes through an internal Department review process. It is also sanitized to remove any language that could identify who the taxpayer is in the WTD.

The Department is starting this pilot program to allow stakeholders to comment on proposed WTDs before they are published. The proposed WTDs provided below have already been sanitized. After receiving feedback from you, the Department will decide whether to publish the proposed WTD or make edits to it before publishing. To receive notification on WTD Publication Comment activity, sign up for email or text notifications.

Please note this is a pilot program, and the Department may decide to end it if we are not receiving comments or if the comments provided do not help improve the quality of the WTDs published. 

Examples of edits/comments we are looking for:

We welcome comments and proposed edits you believe will make the proposed WTD a better final product. Here are examples of comments or proposed edits that are helpful:

  • Information you believe would still identify the taxpayer and needs further sanitization.
  • Edits you believe improve the legal accuracy of the proposed WTD. We cannot make substantial edits so please limit your edits to what is essential to make the proposed WTD clearer.
  • Removing discussion you think is irrelevant or distracts from the analysis that has more publication value.
  • If you believe the proposed WTD reaches the incorrect result, please explain why and provide legal authority for your recommendation.
  • Proposing a footnote to clarify a point that could be confusing to taxpayers who will rely on the WTD.

Comments and edits we ask that you not provide:

  • Edits that effectively change the outcome of the proposed WTD.
  • Edits that alter key holdings in the proposed WTD. If you want to propose edits that alter a holding in the proposed WTD, consider objecting to publication of the proposed WTD and explaining why this is necessary.
  • If you are aware of the taxpayer to whom the proposed WTD was issued, please provide comments that avoid revealing who that taxpayer is as these comments are disclosable for public records purposes. 
  • Please avoid substantial edits to the proposed WTD. If you feel those edits are necessary, explain why.

Proposed WTDs for May 2023

Draft Det. No. 21-0048
Brief Description

An audio equipment rental company protests the Department’s disallowance of a retail sales tax exemption the company claimed in relation to its rentals of audio equipment to artistic or cultural organizations. The subject exemption applies only to qualified buyers on sales of certain objects, and the Department determined that the company provides a service–not a rental of an object–when an operator accompanies the rented equipment. We conclude that the company is not entitled to the exemption on rentals of audio equipment that include an operator, but is entitled to the exemption on rentals of bare equipment. The company also argues that it is not liable for retail sales tax it failed to collect on non-qualifying equipment rentals if it accepted a certification of tax-exempt status from the buyer. We agree with the company on this second issue. We deny the petition in part and grant it in part, and remand the matter to the operating division for adjustment subject to verification of the exemption certificates the company provided.

Draft WTD
Draft Det. No. 21-0192
Brief Description

Taxpayer protests the Department’s imposition of REET on the fair market value of real property according to the county tax roll instead of the value assigned by Taxpayer. We find that Audit correctly valued the transfer using the property’s value as recorded on . . . County property tax rolls. Taxpayer’s petition is denied.

Draft WTD
Draft Det. No. 21-0195
Brief Description

A Washington construction company seeks a refund of amounts it paid towards an assessment of B&O tax and use tax following two partial audits. The Department assessed the subject B&O tax because it found the company reported certain income under the wrong tax classification and failed to report other income. The Department assessed the use tax on the estimated value of materials the company installed on public road construction and government contracting jobs because the company did not provide documentation showing that the materials were previously subject to retail sales tax. We conclude that the company has failed to provide suitable documentation to support its argument that the B&O and use tax assessments should be adjusted and, therefore, there is no basis for granting the refund the company seeks. Petition denied.

Draft WTD

Public comment period

The Department requests comments and stakeholder feedback related to these proposed WTDs no later than June 17, 2023. After a review of the feedback, if any, the Department will consider the appropriate next steps in the process. 

How to make a public comment

If you wish to make a public comment or have questions, please contact the Administrative Review and Hearings Division at DORARHDWTD@dor.wa.gov.