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Overview

Our state and local tax practice is wide-ranging, including income taxes, excise taxes, sales and use taxes, business and occupation (B&O) taxes, real estate transfer taxes, tobacco taxes and other taxes.

Our attorneys have worked collaboratively with clients in a variety of industries, including forest products, metals, food processing, high-tech, hospitality and telecommunications. We also represent public utilities, transportation companies, wineries, and owners of office buildings and other commercial properties.

Overassessment of Real and Personal Property

We represent commercial, industrial and multistate utility and transportation taxpayers in appeals in federal and state courts contesting overassessments of real estate and other property. Our attorneys are well grounded in both valuation theory and tax assessment practices, as well as the constitutional principles governing assessments at the state level.

Garvey Schubert Barer is a member in the American Property Tax Counsel (APTC), the national affiliation of independent property tax law firms. Membership is limited to the foremost firm in each state. Our designation as the member APTC firm for Washington, Oregon and Idaho serves as a testament to our experience and the exceptional service we deliver to clients.

Exemptions and Special Assessments

We represent clients in obtaining and maintaining qualification for exemptions, tax deferrals, tax incentives or special assessments. These include strategic investment and public housing programs, charitable organizations, facilities under construction, pollution control facilities and agricultural property.

Sales and Use Taxation

Our attorneys are well versed to assist our Northwest clients with complex sales and use tax issues, including those particular to Washington. Our attorneys help clients favorably resolve controversies over these tax issues. We also assist clients with sales and use tax planning, compliance issues, exemptions and, when necessary, litigation.

State Income Taxation

Interstate businesses operating in the Pacific Northwest's income tax states — Oregon, Idaho, Alaska and Montana — must allocate and apportion their income among the jurisdictions in which they do business. Our lawyers understand and work regularly with the constitutional principles underlying allocation and apportionment. We also understand these states' statutory deviations from the federal income tax rules.

Washington State Business and Occupation Tax

Out-of-state companies new to Washington are sometimes surprised by the size of their B&O tax bills. Computed as a percentage of gross revenue rather than net income, the B&O tax can substantially impact businesses used to operating under typical state income tax systems. A thorough understanding of the B&O tax is critical to business operations in Washington. With proper planning, a business can minimize the B&O tax by taking advantage of the law’s classifications, exemptions and special provisions. We also represent clients in audits, administrative appeals, and litigation.

Other Taxes and Fees

We represent clients subject to a variety of other excise taxes unique to the Pacific Northwest states. Washington and Alaska, in particular, impose specialized excises that can produce substantial tax liabilities. Faced with the need to find new revenue sources, state and local governments have been imposing new fees in a variety of contexts. Our lawyers have been involved in landmark litigation that successfully argued certain fees are unconstitutional taxes.

Legislation and Consulting

Our attorneys frequently collaborate with industry associations, taxpayer groups and professional corporations interested in modifying the tax laws. We also provide expert testimony before legislative committees and draft proposals for laws and administrative rules. Our experience includes assessment of environmentally contaminated property, taxation of intangible personal property and appeal rights of taxpayers. Our attorneys are active in the Institute for Professionals in Taxation, American Property Tax Counsel, the American Bar Association's State and Local Taxation Committee, Associated Oregon Industries, and the Association of Washington Business.

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