New portal could make business tax reporting easier in Bellevue

The Bellevue City Council on Sept. 24 approved taking the next step to streamline the way companies report and pay their Business and Occupation (B&O) tax.

Bellevue and four other large cities in western Washington (Seattle, Tacoma, Everett and Bellingham) are working to create one-stop, online tool designed to make it easier for businesses to register and pay local B&O taxes, share data and lower costs.

The joint effort is a response to state legislation proposed early this year that would have changed the way B&O taxes are collected. For Bellevue alone, such a change would lower the amount of revenue collected by $1.6 to $6 million.

In 2011, Bellevue collected about $24.5 million in B&O taxes from approximately 18 percent of the city’s 35,000 licensed businesses. Most firms are exempt from the tax because their annual, taxable gross receipts are less than the $150,000 threshold, or because the size of their business is less than 250 square feet.

Councilmembers directed staff to consult with the Bellevue business community and return in November with proposed tax code changes to simplify filing, make it more understandable, eliminate inconsistencies and make the multi-city tax portal possible.

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