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Business and Occupation (B&O) Tax

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Washington legislators may introduce a digital advertising tax bill in the state’s upcoming legislative session.  See H-0028.1 (advance copy; not yet introduced).  Washington’s potential legislation is the latest in a recent trend of digital advertising tax proposals (including in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, and West Virginia, none of which have become law as of the date of this blog post).

On July 21, the Washington Department of Revenue (“DOR”) issued its analysis of the Court of Appeals’ decision from March 30, 2020, in LendingTree, LLC v. Dep’t of Revenue, no. 80637-8-I (Wash. App. Ct. Mar. 30, 2020).  As set forth in the analysis, from the DOR’s perspective, the LendingTree court followed the existing Washington Business and Occupation tax (“B&O”) attribution rules and guidance and did not create a new interpretive legal framework.[1]  Although the DOR lost the case, and the court held that LendingTree’s receipts could not be sourced based where its customers’ customers were located, the DOR’s response suggests that they are factually distinguishing the case and will continue to attribute receipts to the customer’s customer location if that is where it determines the benefit of the services occurs.