Tax rates increase for some PSE customers

NORTH BEND - A small number of Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers in North Bend will soon see a temporary increase in their local utility-tax charges to compensate for being billed too little by the company for the tax in the past.

About 160 of PSE's natural-gas and electric customers will find the municipal-tax adjustment on their next bill. The adjustment covers the period between August of 1999 and September of 2002, when the company did not charge the correct amount to those customers.

The amount of the adjustment is dependent on how long the tax omission occurred for each customer. The charges will be spread out in equal installments. For residential customers the charge will average about $3.60 per month, while businesses will be charged about $6.65 per month.

North Bend's tax was "inadvertently omitted" from the bills, according to a PSE press release, because of delays in classifying the customers as in-city residents or in-city businesses. The customers, according to PSE, should've been billed a utility tax based on the location of their home or businesses.

Washington cities are authorized to levy a tax on energy, telephone, cable-TV and other utility services. Utility providers include the tax with customers' standard utility charges. Bill statements, including PSE's, list the tax separately from customers' standard utility charges.

PSE said the problem has been repaired by reconciling all customers' billing addresses on a quarterly basis against a state Department of Revenue tax database.

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