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AGO 1954 No. 218 - March 02, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

CITIES AND TOWNS ‑- TAXATION ‑- ADMISSIONS TAX ‑- POWER TO COLLECT FROM OTHER GOVERNMENTAL SUBDIVISIONS  ‑-  SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS  ‑- LIABILITY TO PAY TO CITY

The City of Seattle may require Seattle School District No. 1 to collect and remit to the city the admission tax imposed by ordinance No. 72495, as amended by ordinance No. 82622, upon student activity cards.

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                                                                   March 2, 1954

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
King County
County City Building
Seattle, Washington                                                                                         Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 218

Attention:  K. G. Smiles, Chief Civil Deputy

Dear Sir:

            Your letter of February 17, 1954, requests our advice on the following question: Whether or not the City of Seattle may require Seattle School District No. 1 to collect and remit to the city the admissions tax imposed by ordinance No. 72495, as amended by ordinance No. 82622, of the City of Seattle?

            In our opinion the city does have this authority.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            No constitutional question is involved since we are not dealing with the taxation of any property of a school district or other municipal corporation which would be exempt under Amendment XIV.  An admission tax is imposed upon the purchaser of the tickets and is merely collected and remitted by the seller.  The  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] issue is whether or not the City of Seattle can legally require a coordinate branch of government, a school district, to collect and remit such tax.  Since no constitutional limitation is involved, the matter is dependent entirely upon the statute and ordinance.

            Ordinance No. 82622 provides:

            "Anyone including any municipal or quasi municipal corporation, * * *"

            must collect and remit the tax.  This language is clearly broad enough to include school districts.  The enabling statute under which the ordinance was passed is RCW 35.21.280, which provides in part:

            "* * * The city or town may require anyone who receives payment for an admission charge to collect and remit the tax to the city or town."  (Emphasis supplied)

            The entire question may be simplified to this: Did the legislature intend by the use of the word "anyone," to include school districts?

            The word "anyone" is not statutorily defined but it has a commonly understood meaning which is identical to its dictionary definition as follows:

            "Any person indiscriminately; * * *"

            Webster's New International Dictionary (2d edition).  By the very nature of the act in which this word is used, it seems obvious to us that the legislature intended to include within its meaning, any person or other legal entity, including municipal corporations or quasi municipal corporations.  This is fortified by reference to the predecessor of this statute.

            The admissions tax was originally imposed by the revenue act of 1935 (chapter 180, Laws of 1935).  At that time the tax was imposed by the state, but thereafter, in 1943, it was repealed as a state tax and reenacted as an enabling statute for cities and towns.  In its original form, in 1935, the chapter included a statutory definition of the term "person" as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            "The word 'person' or word 'company,' herein used interchangeably, means any individual, receiver, assignee, trustee in bankruptcy, trust, estate, firm, copartnership, joint venture, club, company, joint-stock company, business trust, municipal corporation, corporation, association, society, or any group of individuals acting as a unit, whether mutual, co-operative [[cooperative]], fraternal, non-profit [[nonprofit]]or otherwise;" (Chapter 180, § 5 (b)).

            Although this definition is no longer a part of the admissions tax statute, it nevertheless indicates the broad scope of the intended usage of the term "person" as used in the original act.  The term "anyone," which is defined as meaning "any person," should therefore be given the same broad interpretation.

            In our opinion there is little doubt that the term "anyone" is broad enough to include within its meaning municipal or quasi municipal corporations, including school districts.  The statute is, therefore, broad enough to sustain the city ordinance.  It follows that the city has authority to require the school district to collect and remit the tax in accordance with the express language of the ordinance.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
A
ttorney General

RALPH M. DAVIS
Assistant Attorney General

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