Don’t burden small businesses with fees | Letter

Oct 05, 2016

Editor, The Beacon:

Our mayor is proposing a hike in business license fees [“City eyes rate hikes for business license fees,” front page, Sept. 28], even though the city has an excess of funds and our business license fee is already excessively higher than most cities our size in this state.

Based on Association of Washington Cities data, business license fees for comparable cities include: Mill Creek ($25), Arlington ($60), Monroe ($50), Woodinville ($39), Tumwater ($50), Lake Forest Park ($60), Mercer Island ($30) and Lake Stevens ($40). Mukilteo’s fee is $113.50.

Mayor Jennifer Gregerson started the conversation regarding business license fees reform by saying that she would like to help small businesses. In reality, the proposed hike developed by Policy Analyst Marko Liias increases the fees for the smallest businesses that have little to no impact on city services.

In addition to increasing the fee, the mayor is proposing that the business licenses be administered through the state Department of Revenue computerized system – thus reducing the administrative costs to the city.

All businesses would then pay an additional fee to the state and an increased business license fee to the city of Mukilteo. That potentially increases fees from $113.50 to $140. How is this helping small businesses?

Each increase in fixed annual business license fees for a small business is a larger portion of their total expenses. If a business practices in more than one city, a business license is required for each city, whether business is profitable or not.

It is annual budget discussion time, and according to the preliminary budget, the city income and REET leave our city with excess money.

Instead of finding ways to raise more money by burdening small businesses through excessive business license fees – perhaps the discussion should include giving the additional revenue back to the citizens and businesses that paid.

How can our mayor really help small businesses? By reducing the already comparatively high business license fee and not charging businesses with three or fewer employees an FTE tax.

If revenue needs to be increased above the already excessive amount collected by our city, don’t do it on the backs of our small businesses.


Lani O’Connor,


Comments (1)
Posted by: Joe Kunzler | Oct 06, 2016 10:51


Good letter.  I'm considering starting up a small business and the fact I'm very likely going to have to plop $150 in a capital investment in a business license I find to be a totally anti-small business form of taxation.  $150 is a new printer or a hotel room or a plane ride.  Business licenses are not taxing sales & consumption which is progressive & fair nor on property; yet business licenses are a capital investment gambling that one can recoup in profit the cost of a business license.  Each community one wants to do business in, a business license tax is levied.  For what exactly?

I "get it" Mukilteo needs new revenue to retain quality staff.  I don't quarrel with the needs that are finally being addressed by Mukilteo post-Great Recession.  I just have a fundamental problem with this form of anti-business taxation and wish the state legislature would repeal and replace.


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