Washington State May Collect Disputed Taxes, Court Says

Published August 1, 2006

A court ruling that invalidated Washington State taxes on liquor and extended warranties has been stayed by a state supreme court commissioner pending the outcome of an appeal.

Supreme Court Commissioner Geoffrey Crooks issued the stay on May 25 after the state attorney general’s office promised taxes would be refunded if the lower court’s ruling is upheld.

“The State will be held to this promise,” Crooks said in his order.

Consumers Must Save Receipts

Lawmakers in 2005 levied a $1.33-per-liter surcharge on liquor purchases. A trial court in March declared the surcharge and a tax on warranties to be illegal. The taxes continue to be collected, pending the outcome of the state’s appeal of the lower court ruling.

The Washington State Liquor Control Board is posting notices in stores advising customers they need to save their receipts in order to qualify for any future refunds of the liquor taxes. The Liquor Control Board promises that if a refund is ordered, instructions on how to file for it will be made available at liquor stores or the agency’s Web site.

The surcharge applies only to hard liquor, not to beer or wine.

— Jason Mercier