State to consolidate business licensing

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MOSES LAKE — The Washington State Department of Revenue calls it “one-stop shopping.”

A new law enacted this year will require every city in Washington that issues business licenses to partner with the Division of Revenue in issuing and renewing those licenses by the end 2022.

“The state will collect the fee and information on the cities’ behalf and then distribute the fees (back to the cities),” said Beverly Crichfield, a spokesperson for the Division of Revenue.

According to Crichfield, the cities would still retain the ability to approve or deny a business license. The new law simply consolidates the application process and the fee collection with the state.

Moses Lake Development Director and Deputy City Manager Gil Alvarado said the new law won’t change much, since anyone going into business in Washington already has to apply for a license with the state in order to pay their state business and operating taxes.

The city license allows for planning, building, fire and police inspections of new businesses, Alvarado said.

“We will still do all of that, and we won’t stop,” he said. “Unless there are additional mandates from the state, we will still continue our process.”

“Going into business is complicated,” Alvarado added.

Of Washington’s 281 cities, 212 require business licenses, according to a state legislature report on the new law. Currently, Crichfield said the Department of Revenue already operates “one-stop shopping” for business licenses with 78 cities, and the stated goal was to simplify state regulation and tax collection, especially among those cities the collect their own business and operating tax.

“We’ve been offering this since 2012,” Crichfield said.

A first-time state business license costs $19, while a renewal costs $11, plus whatever a city charges. A business license in Moses Lake is $85, Alvarado said, though the city will pro-rate that cost depending on the time of year the license is applied for.

The state estimates the new law will generate about $3.7 million in revenue by 2022, about $1 million more than the program’s anticipated costs of $2.7 million.

None of this applies to costs or process of incorporating — creating a fictitious legal entity to do business — which will still be handled separately by the Washington Secretary of State’s office.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com.

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