Washington's Port District Act, which authorized citizens to form port districts, also authorized a tax levy to finance those districts. Initially, ports were granted the authority to collect $2 for every $1,000 of assessed value on taxable property. The funds provided the initial money needed to construct and operate facilities and establish reserve funds. Since then, the Legislature has reduced the port tax levy rate to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. In addition, the state has authorized special property tax levies (a maximum of 45 cents per $1,000) for dredging, canal construction, land leveling or filling.
Most ports use their tax revenues to pay for capital development - marine terminals, industrial parks, development of infrastructure and airport facility updates. Ports invest in such facilities to attract and retain businesses to their regions.
Ports pay sales taxes on their purchases along with a business and occupation (B&O) tax on services they provide to their customers. Businesses that lease port property pay a leasehold tax that's roughly equal to a property tax. Ports collect these taxes on behalf of the state, which redistributes them back to state and local governments.