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AGO 1954 No. 228 - March 23, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


The motor vehicle excise tax applies to vehicles used in this state under reciprocal license agreements.

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                                                                  March 23, 1954

Honorable E. C. Huntley
Washington State Tax Commission
Insurance Building
Olympia, Washington                                                                                           Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 228

Dear Chairman Huntley:

            You request our opinion whether or not

            the motor vehicle excise tax applies to vehicles used in this state but not required to be licensed here under reciprocal license agreements issued pursuant to RCW 46.16.160.

            We conclude that the motor vehicle excise tax applies.


            The motor vehicle excise tax is imposed by chapter 82.44 RCW upon the

            "privilege of using in this state any motor vehicle" RCW 82.44.020 (PTC sec. 363).

            The tax is in lieu of a personal property tax.  RCW 82.44.130.  Collectionnot  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] imposition of the tax is tied in with the issuance of motor vehicle licenses, RCW 82.44.090 (PTC sec. 370).  The reciprocity provisions in our license code, RCW 46.16.030 and 46.16.160 speak only of reciprocal "licensing."  Nowhere do we find a reciprocal exemption for motor vehicle excise taxes.  The tax is therefore applicable.

            Commercial vehicles under the reciprocal program operate under permits issued by the Department of Licenses pursuant to RCW 46.16.160.  It would seem proper that the applicable tax should be collected at the time of the issuance of the permit.  This is the direct policy of the motor vehicle excise tax chapter in tying in the collection of the tax with the issuance of licenses.  The permitis a license.  Since no license or identificationplate may be issued without collection of the tax, it is thus only logical that no permit to be used in lieu of a license may be issued without collection of the same tax.  RCW 82.44.070 (PTC sec. 370) requires the tax to be collected when

            "the required license fee"

            is collected.  That a paper license sticker is used rather than a metal license plate should not be and is not of controlling distinction.

            We hope the above has been of assistance.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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