Investment Income Deduction Claim Washington State

In John H. Sellen Constr. Co. v. Department of Revenue, 87 Wn.2d 878, 558 P.2d 1342 (1976), five taxpayers claimed entitlement to an investment income deduction: (1) Sellen Construction Company, a general contractor; (2) Olympia Brewing Company, a beer manufacturer; (3) King County Medical Blue Shield, a nonprofit prepaid medical services provider; (4) Blue-Cross Washington-Alaska, a health care services contractor; (5) Acacia Memorial Park Permanent Care Fund (AMPPCF), a trust fund established for the "charitable purpose" of providing upkeep to cemetery grounds. Sellen, 87 Wn.2d at 879-81. The court found that none of these taxpayers were "financial businesses." Sellen, 87 Wn.2d at 882. First, the court noted that the term "financial business" is not statutorily defined and that in such cases "words in a statute are given their ordinary and common meaning." Id. Then, without citation to authority, it determined that the ordinary and common meaning of financial business "contemplates a business whose primary purpose and objective is to earn income through the utilization of significant cash outlays." Id. Next, the court looked to the dictionary definition of "financial institution," which is "an enterprise specializing in the handling and investment of funds (as a bank, trust company, insurance company, savings and loan association, or investment company)." Sellen, 87 Wn.2d at 883. (quoting WEBSTER'S THIRD NEW INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY (1968)). Finally, the court applied a rule of statutory interpretation, ejusdem generis, which provides that general terms, when used in conjunction with specific terms in a statute, should be deemed only to incorporate those things similar in nature or "comparable to" the specific terms. Sellen, 87 Wn.2d at 883-84. Thus, the Court held that the generic term "other financial businesses" must be read in conjunction with the terms "banking, loan, and security." the generic term only extends to businesses that are comparable to one of the specific categories but technically not falling within one of the three categories. Sellen, 87 Wn.2d at 884.