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Gregoire backs easier business licenses, taxes

Fri., Jan. 6, 2012, midnight

Governor proposes one-stop system

OLYMPIA – Small businesses would have a single place to obtain state and local licenses and to pay state and local business and occupation taxes under proposals announced Thursday by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire.

The state will also expand job training for veterans, minorities and women, all groups that have higher-than-average unemployment rates, she said.

The state is reducing the number of business classifications in the B&O tax and should work with local governments to standardize their rules and definitions as part of an effort to make paying the taxes “easier, friendlier and cheaper,” Gregoire said. She’ll back legislation in the upcoming session to support that.

While Spokane-area cities don’t impose a B&O tax, many West Side cities do. The differences in rates and classifications from one city to the next make it difficult for some small businesses that operate in many cities to comply, she said, adding that the state should offer a single place to file a form, a single number to call for help and a single place to pay the tax.

The state already collects local sales tax, which it remits to cities and counties on a quarterly basis. It should do the same for B&O taxes, she said. The state keeps 1 percent of what it collects for local governments as a handling fee, and would keep up to 1 percent of the B&O tax.

For job training, the state will use some $1.1 million in federal funds to expand programs. The Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Puget Sound will get money to help 460 veterans turn military skills into skilled manufacturing abilities and the state Department of Transportation will add on-the-job training for 300 women and minorities. All of those groups have unemployment rates in double digits.

Those changes involve existing federal funds and don’t need legislation, she said.

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