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Stakeholders rally to end sales tax

Stakeholders rally to end sales tax

OLYMPIA, Wash. – After a small hiccup, a bill that exempts “mobility enhancing equipment for a complex needs patient” from the state sales tax passed the state legislature in April and was signed by the governor in May. 

S.B. 5218, sponsored by Sens. Mike Padden, R-4th district, Mark Mullet, D-5th district, and Nikki Torres, R-15th district, was passed unanimously in the state Senate and House. 

“Our lobbyist Abby Moore reports that there was a lot of support for the bill by both Senate and House members, with a good mix of both Republicans and Democrats,” said Barb Stockert, executive director of the Pacific Association for Medical Equipment Services (PAMES). “We had our fingers crossed.” 

In Washington state, the sales tax varies depending on the region. In Spokane, for example, it’s 9%, while in Seattle, it’s 11.1%. 

Earlier in the year, stakeholders and their champions had to tweak the language in the original version of the bill to clarify that the exemption applied to the people using the equipment, not to the equipment itself, per feedback from the state’s Department of Revenue.  

“How it’s going to work is, the purchaser has to provide the seller with a sales tax exemption certificate and the seller has to keep a copy of that certificate,” said Don Whitney, COO of Inland Medical & Rehab in Spokane, Wash. 

Stakeholders have made the case to legislators that the sales tax is increasingly impacting access to equipment in an environment where reimbursement is low, and costs are high. 

“We’ve lost 61 independents in the past decade just in Washington state,” he said. “The bottom line is, this would help a lot of companies stay in business.” 

Getting the bill this far was no small feat. 

“We came together at PAMES and reached out to members and manufacturers because we wanted to hire a lobbyist and we ended up raising $25,000 in two days,” Whitney said. 


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