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$15/hour Minimum Wage - Washington State Attorney General Issues Guideline for Surcharges

Posted Friday, July 10, 2015 by Christopher L. Thayer

Alternative TextSeattle and SeaTac have recently decided to increase their hourly minimum wage to $15.00/hour. As local businesses react to this change, some have considered adding a line item charge for their service to cover this increased labor cost. In particular, some large chain restaurants in Seattle have proposed to add a fee to their customer’s bill. The Washington State Attorney General issued guidelines for business who wish to add such charges. State law allows such charges, but only if:

• All surcharges must be conspicuously disclosed to consumers in advance. Businesses are advised to use a large and legible font and to prominently disply the notice at the point of purchase.

• For surcharges related to the food, beverage or entertainment industry, the charge must be disclosed in an itemized receipt and on any menus.

• The disclosure must be clear and unambiguous.

• The disclosure may not mischaracterize the surcharge as a “tax” or in any other way that implies it is a government fee.

• Any funds derived from the surcharge fee, must be used for the purpose indicated (i.e., funding employee wages)

• Surcharges are subject to B&) tax

For more information, see this link for the full guideline issues by the WA Attorney General: http://agportal-s3bucket.s3.amazonaws.com/uploadedfiles/Home/News/Press_Releases/2015/Wage%20surcharge%20guidance%20062415.pdf

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