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AGLO 1970 No. 074 - May 05, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington

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                                                                    May 5, 1970

 


Honorable Jay Roy Jones
Prosecuting Attorney
Asotin County
P.O. Box 80
Asotin, Washington 99402

                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 74

 

 

Dear Sir:

            We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated April 30, 1970, requesting our advice as to the authority of a county to levy an excise tax in the nature of a business and occupation tax.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            Under Article VII, § 9 and Article XI, § 12 of our state Constitution, the power of taxation is an attribute of sovereignty residing in the state alone.  Municipal corporations, as such, have no inherent right to levy taxes.  If the power to tax is not conferred directly upon them by the Constitution, it must be granted by the legislature.  Our Constitution makes no direct grant of the taxing power to municipal corporations, but provides that the legislature may vest them with this power.  See, State ex rel. King County v. State Tax Commission, 174 Wash. 668, 26 P.2d 80 (1933).

            There are no statutes presently in effect, so far as our research has disclosed, conferring upon the various counties of the state the authority to levy a business and occupation type excise tax.  Accordingly, in so far as those counties which remain governed by the foregoing analytical rules are concerned, it follows that the question you have posed must be answered in the negative.1/

 

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

 

Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General

 

                                                         ***   FOOTNOTES   ***
 

1/Of course, were your county operating under a freeholders charter adopted pursuant to the provisions of Article XI, § 4 (Amendment 21) of our state Constitution, a somewhat different approach would be in order.  See our recent opinion to State Representative Gary Grant, dated October 31, 1969, copy enclosed, on this point.

 

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