Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1955 No. 156 - Nov 4 1955
Attorney General Don Eastvold


Tax Commission has neither right nor obligation under Chapter 385, Laws of 1955, to take into custody abandoned tangible property.

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                                                                November 4, 1955

Honorable H. Dan Bracken, Jr.
State Tax Commission
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 156

Dear Sir:

            By your letter of October 4, 1955, you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which you state as follows:

            "Does the act of the Legislature [Chapter 385, Laws of 1955, as amended by Chapter 11, Laws of 1955, Ex. Sess.] give the Tax Commission the right or the obligation to take into its custody abandoned tangible personal property which is reported to it or which may be tendered to it."

            The answer to your question is in the negative.


            The question arises because of the wording used in § 11, Subdivision 1, of the Act which states:

            "Every person holding funds or other property, tangible or intangible, presumed abandoned under this act shall report to the tax commission with  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] respect to the property as hereinafter provided."

            A reading of the entire chapter discloses that §§ 1 through 9 define the type of property which may be "presumed abandoned under this act" and all of the property mentioned is intangible.  It is clear that by the act the legislature intended to include only abandoned intangible property.  Thus the use of the word "tangible" in § 11, should be disregarded.

            When words of a statute are meaningless or inconsistent with the plain intention of the legislature, they may be rejected or given no effect.  50 Am.Jur. Statutes, § 231.  It was said inUnited States v. Jackson, 143 Fed. 783:

            "When words occur in the statute which can be given no effect consistent with the plain intent of the statute, they must be rejected as without meaning."

            We, therefore, conclude that the tax commission has neither the right nor the obligation under chapter 385, as amended, to take into its custody abandoned tangible property.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General