Lewis County Commission

From left to right, Gary Stamper, Edna Fund, and Bobby Jackson attend a mayors meeting Jan. 3, 2020 at the Lewis County Historical Courthouse in Chehalis.

Lewis County Commissioners directed staff to draft an ordinance to authorize a sales and use tax — at the rate of 0.0146 percent  — for affordable and supportive housing at their Monday morning regular business meeting held at the Historic Courthouse in Chehalis. 

A public hearing on the proposed ordinance is scheduled 10 a.m. on Jan. 27 inside the courthouse hearing room, where the Board of County Commissioners will consider whether to adopt legislation to impose the sales and use tax in question as authorized by state Substitute House Bill 1406 (SHB 1406).   

“This is in accord with the motion made in October to accept the funds available to us by the state of Washington to develop affordable and supportive housing,” said Public Health and Social Services Director J.P. Anderson, during the meeting. “This is not a specific project, but there’s a time requirement as far as when we’ll let people know (what) we’re interested in doing.” 

SHB 1406, as noted in corresponding county documents, authorizes the governing body of a city or county to impose a local sales and use tax for the acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of housing or facilities providing supportive housing. The legal notice also states a local sales and sales use tax can be applied toward the operations and maintenance costs of affordable or supportive housing and — if eligible — for providing rental assistance to tenants. 

Anderson went on to note that the Department of Commerce and the Department of Revenue advised Public Health to create an ordinance that would allow the county to use sales and tax use monies in a way that would benefit local communities. 

“This would allow us to keep those local sales tax dollars — a percentage of them — locally and use them for local projects yet to be defined,” he added. 

The sales and use tax from which the affordable and supportive housing dollars are derived isn’t a new tax, but rather the monies used will be deducted from the amount of tax “otherwise required to be collected or paid to the Department of Revenue” by the county. 

Moreover, the tax must reportedly be used to assist individuals whose income is at or below 60 percent of Lewis County’s median income.    

The Department of Revenue defines a sales and use tax as a levy “on the use of goods or certain services in Washington when sales tax has not been paid.”

Therefore, a sales and use tax is due in the event that goods are purchased in another state that does not have a sales tax or a state with a sales tax lower than Washington’s; goods purchased from someone who is not authorized to collect sales tax or when goods are purchased out of state by subscription, online or from a mail order catalogue company. 

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