SENATE BILL 5248
State of Washington 52nd Legislature 1991 Regular Session
By Senators Sutherland, A. Smith, Madsen and Rasmussen.
Read first time January 24, 1991. Referred to Committee on Ways & Means.
AN ACT Relating to current use valuation for residential property; amending RCW 84.34.010, 84.34.020, 84.34.030, 84.34.037, 84.34.060, 84.34.080, and 84.34.108; and providing a contingent effective date.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1. RCW 84.34.010 and 1973 1st ex.s. c 212 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
legislature hereby declares that it is in the best interest of the state to
maintain, preserve, conserve and otherwise continue in existence adequate open
space lands for the production of food, fiber and forest crops, ((
to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the
economic and social well-being of the state and its citizens, and to assure
the affordability of residential property. The legislature further
declares that assessment practices must be so designed as to permit the
continued availability of open space lands and residential property for
these purposes, and it is the intent of this chapter so to provide. The
legislature further declares its intent that farm and agricultural lands shall
be valued on the basis of their value for use as authorized by section 11 of
Article VII of the Constitution of the state of Washington.
Sec. 2. RCW 84.34.020 and 1988 c 253 s 3 are each amended to read as follows:
As used in this chapter, unless a different meaning is required by the context:
(1) "Open space land" means (a) any land area so designated by an official comprehensive land use plan adopted by any city or county and zoned accordingly or (b) any land area, the preservation of which in its present use would (i) conserve and enhance natural or scenic resources, or (ii) protect streams or water supply, (iii) promote conservation of soils, wetlands, beaches or tidal marshes, or (iv) enhance the value to the public of abutting or neighboring parks, forests, wildlife preserves, nature reservations or sanctuaries or other open space, or (v) enhance recreation opportunities, or (vi) preserve historic sites, or (vii) retain in its natural state tracts of land not less than five acres situated in an urban area and open to public use on such conditions as may be reasonably required by the legislative body granting the open space classification.
(2) "Farm and agricultural land" means either (a) land in any contiguous ownership of twenty or more acres (i) devoted primarily to the production of livestock or agricultural commodities for commercial purposes, or (ii) enrolled in the federal conservation reserve program or its successor administered by the United States department of agriculture; (b) any parcel of land five acres or more but less than twenty acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses, which has produced a gross income from agricultural uses equivalent to one hundred dollars or more per acre per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification under this chapter; or (c) any parcel of land of less than five acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses which has produced a gross income of one thousand dollars or more per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification under this chapter. Agricultural lands shall also include farm woodlots of less than twenty and more than five acres and the land on which appurtenances necessary to the production, preparation or sale of the agricultural products exist in conjunction with the lands producing such products. Agricultural lands shall also include any parcel of land of one to five acres, which is not contiguous, but which otherwise constitutes an integral part of farming operations being conducted on land qualifying under this section as "farm and agricultural lands".
(3) "Timber land" means land in any contiguous ownership of five or more acres which is devoted primarily to the growth and harvest of forest crops and which is not classified as reforestation land pursuant to chapter 84.28 RCW. Timber land means the land only.
(4) "Current" or "currently" means as of the date on which property is to be listed and valued by the county assessor.
(5) "Owner" means the party or parties having the fee interest in land, except that where land is subject to real estate contract "owner" shall mean the contract vendee.
(6) "Contiguous" means land adjoining and touching other property held by the same ownership. Land divided by a public road, but otherwise an integral part of a farming operation, shall be considered contiguous.
(7) "Residential property" means property primarily devoted to residential uses and shall include a single family dwelling unit whether such unit be separate or part of a multi-unit dwelling, including the land on which such dwelling stands not to exceed five acres. The term shall also include a share ownership in a cooperative housing association, corporation, or partnership if the person claiming exemption can establish that his or her share represents the specific unit or portion of such structure in which he or she resides. The term shall also include a single family dwelling situated upon lands the fee of which is vested in the United States or any instrumentality thereof including an Indian tribe or in the state of Washington, and notwithstanding the provisions of RCW 84.04.080, 84.04.090 or 84.40.250, such a residence shall be deemed real property.
Sec. 3. RCW 84.34.030 and 1989 c 378 s 10 are each amended to read as follows:
owner of agricultural land desiring current use classification under ((
(2) of)) RCW 84.34.020(2) shall make application to the county
assessor upon forms prepared by the state department of revenue and supplied by
the county assessor. An owner of open space or timber land desiring current
use classification under (( subsections (1) and (3) of)) RCW 84.34.020 (1),
(3), or (7) shall make application to the county legislative authority upon
forms prepared by the state department of revenue and supplied by the county
assessor. The application shall be accompanied by a reasonable processing fee
if such processing fee is established by the city or county legislative
authority. Said application shall require only such information reasonably
necessary to properly classify an area of land under this chapter with a
notarized verification of the truth thereof and shall include a statement that
the applicant is aware of the potential tax liability involved when such land
ceases to be designated as open space, residential, farm and
agricultural, or timber land. Applications must be made during the calendar
year preceding that in which such classification is to begin. The assessor
shall make necessary information, including copies of this chapter and
applicable regulations, readily available to interested parties, and shall
render reasonable assistance to such parties upon request.
Sec. 4. RCW 84.34.037 and 1985 c 393 s 1 are each amended to read as follows:
for classification under RCW 84.34.020 ((
subsection)) (1) (( or)),
(3), or (7) shall be made to the county legislative authority. An
application made for classification of land under RCW 84.34.020 (( subsection))
(1)(b), (( or)) (3), or (7) which is in an area subject to a
comprehensive plan shall be acted upon in the same manner in which an amendment
to the comprehensive plan is processed. Application made for classification of
land which is in an area not subject to a comprehensive plan shall be acted
upon after a public hearing and after notice of the hearing shall have been
given by one publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the area at
least ten days before the hearing: PROVIDED, That applications for
classification of land in an incorporated area shall be acted upon by a
determining authority composed of three members of the county legislative body
and three members of the city legislative body in which the land is located.
determining whether an application made for classification under RCW
, subsection)) (1)(b)(( ,)) or (3) should be approved
or disapproved, the granting authority may take cognizance of the benefits to
the general welfare of preserving the current use of the property which is the
subject of application, and may consider whether or not preservation of current
use of the land when balanced against the resulting revenue loss or tax shift
from granting the application will (1) conserve or enhance natural, cultural,
or scenic resources, (2) protect streams, stream corridors, wetlands, natural
shorelines and aquifers, (3) protect soil resources and unique or critical
wildlife and native plant habitat, (4) promote conservation principles by
example or by offering educational opportunities, (5) enhance the value of
abutting or neighboring parks, forests, wildlife preserves, nature
reservations, sanctuaries, or other open spaces, (6) enhance recreation
opportunities, (7) preserve historic and archaeological sites, (8) affect any
other factors relevant in weighing benefits to the general welfare of
preserving the current use of the property: PROVIDED, That if a public benefit
rating system is adopted under RCW 84.34.055, the county legislative authority
shall rate property applying for classification under RCW 84.34.020(1)(b)
according to the public benefit rating system in determining whether an
application should be approved or disapproved, but when such a system is
adopted, open space properties then classified under this chapter which do not
qualify under the system shall not be removed from classification but may be
rated according to the public benefit rating system(( : PROVIDED FURTHER,
That)). In determining whether an application made for classification
under RCW 84.34.020(7) should be approved or disapproved, the granting
authority shall determine whether the property is residential property.
granting authority may approve the application with respect to only part of the
land which is the subject of the application((
: AND PROVIDED FURTHER, That)).
If any part of the application is denied, the applicant may withdraw the
entire application(( : AND PROVIDED FURTHER, That)). The
granting authority in approving in part or whole an application for land
classified pursuant to RCW 84.34.020 (1) or (3) may also require that certain
conditions be met, including but not limited to the granting of easements(( :
AND PROVIDED FURTHER, That)). The granting or denial of the
application for current use classification is a legislative determination and
shall be reviewable only for arbitrary and capricious actions. The granting
authority may not require the granting of easements for land classified
pursuant to RCW 84.34.020(3) or (7).
Sec. 5. RCW 84.34.060 and 1985 c 393 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:
determining the true and fair value of open space land ((
timber land, (( which)) and residential property that has been
classified as such under the provisions of this chapter, the assessor shall
consider only the use to which such property and improvements is currently
applied and shall not consider potential uses of such property. The assessor
shall compute the assessed value of such property by using the same assessment
ratio (( which he)) that the assessor applies generally in
computing the assessed value of other property: PROVIDED, That the assessed
valuation of open space land with no current use shall not be less than that
which would result if it were to be assessed for agricultural uses, except that
the assessed valuation of open space land with no current use may be valued
based on the public benefit rating system adopted under RCW 84.34.055:
PROVIDED FURTHER, That timber land shall be valued according to chapter 84.33
Sec. 6. RCW 84.34.080 and 1973 1st ex.s. c 212 s 9 are each amended to read as follows:
land which has been classified under this chapter as open space land, farm and
agricultural land, ((
or)) timber land, or residential property is
applied to some other use, except through compliance with RCW 84.34.070, or
except as a result solely from any one of the conditions listed in RCW
84.34.108(5), the owner shall within sixty days notify the county assessor of
such change in use and additional real property tax shall be imposed upon such
land in an amount equal to the sum of the following:
(1) The total amount of the additional tax due under RCW 84.34.108; plus
(2) A penalty amounting to twenty percent of the amount determined in subsection (1) of this section.
Sec. 7. RCW 84.34.108 and 1989 c 378 s 35 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) When land has once been classified under this chapter, a notation of such designation shall be made each year upon the assessment and tax rolls and such land shall be valued pursuant to RCW 84.34.060 or 84.34.065 until removal of all or a portion of such designation by the assessor upon occurrence of any of the following:
(a) Receipt of notice from the owner to remove all or a portion of such designation;
(b) Sale or transfer to an ownership making all or a portion of such land exempt from ad valorem taxation;
(c) Sale or transfer of all or a portion of such land to a new owner, unless the new owner has signed a notice of classification continuance. The signed notice of continuance shall be attached to the real estate excise tax affidavit provided for in RCW 82.45.120, as now or hereafter amended. The notice of continuance shall be on a form prepared by the department of revenue. If the notice of continuance is not signed by the new owner and attached to the real estate excise tax affidavit, all additional taxes calculated pursuant to subsection (3) of this section shall become due and payable by the seller or transferor at time of sale. The county auditor shall not accept an instrument of conveyance of classified land for filing or recording unless the new owner has signed the notice of continuance or the additional tax has been paid. The seller, transferor, or new owner may appeal the new assessed valuation calculated under subsection (3) of this section to the county board of equalization. Jurisdiction is hereby conferred on the county board of equalization to hear these appeals;
(d) Determination by the assessor, after giving the owner written notice and an opportunity to be heard, that all or a portion of such land is no longer primarily devoted to and used for the purposes under which it was granted classification.
(2) Within thirty days after such removal of all or a portion of such land from current use classification, the assessor shall notify the owner in writing, setting forth the reasons for such removal. The seller, transferor, or owner may appeal such removal to the county board of equalization.
(3) Unless the removal is reversed on appeal, the assessor shall revalue the affected land with reference to full market value on the date of removal from classification. Both the assessed valuation before and after the removal of classification shall be listed and taxes shall be allocated according to that part of the year to which each assessed valuation applies. Except as provided in subsection (5) of this section, an additional tax shall be imposed which shall be due and payable to the county treasurer thirty days after the owner is notified of the amount of the additional tax. As soon as possible, the assessor shall compute the amount of such an additional tax and the treasurer shall mail notice to the owner of the amount thereof and the date on which payment is due. The amount of such additional tax shall be equal to:
The difference between the property tax paid as "open space land",
"farm and agricultural land", ((
or)) "timber land",
or "residential property" and the amount of property tax otherwise
due and payable for the seven years last past had the land not been so
(b) Interest upon the amounts of such additional tax paid at the same statutory rate charged on delinquent property taxes from the dates on which such additional tax could have been paid without penalty if the land had been assessed at a value without regard to this chapter.
(4) Additional tax, together with applicable interest thereon, shall become a lien on such land which shall attach at the time such land is removed from current use classification under this chapter and shall have priority to and shall be fully paid and satisfied before any recognizance, mortgage, judgment, debt, obligation or responsibility to or with which such land may become charged or liable. Such lien may be foreclosed upon expiration of the same period after delinquency and in the same manner provided by law for foreclosure of liens for delinquent real property taxes as provided in RCW 84.64.050 now or as hereafter amended. Any additional tax unpaid on its due date shall thereupon become delinquent. From the date of delinquency until paid, interest shall be charged at the same rate applied by law to delinquent ad valorem property taxes.
(5) The additional tax specified in subsection (3) of this section shall not be imposed if the removal of designation pursuant to subsection (1) of this section resulted solely from:
(a) Transfer to a government entity in exchange for other land located within the state of Washington;
(b) A taking through the exercise of the power of eminent domain, or sale or transfer to an entity having the power of eminent domain in anticipation of the exercise of such power;
(c) Sale or transfer of land within two years after the death of the owner of at least a fifty percent interest in such land;
(d) A natural disaster such as a flood, windstorm, earthquake, or other such calamity rather than by virtue of the act of the landowner changing the use of such property;
(e) Official action by an agency of the state of Washington or by the county or city within which the land is located which disallows the present use of such land;
(f) Transfer to a church and such land would qualify for property tax exemption pursuant to RCW 84.36.020; or
(g) Acquisition of property interests by state agencies or agencies or organizations qualified under RCW 84.34.210 and 64.04.130 for the purposes enumerated in those sections: PROVIDED, That at such time as these property interests are not used for the purposes enumerated in RCW 84.34.210 and 64.04.130 the additional tax specified in subsection (3) of this section shall be imposed.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 8. This act shall take effect if the proposed amendment to Article VII, section 11 of the state Constitution authorizing current use valuation for property devoted to residential uses is validly submitted to and is approved and ratified by the voters at the next general election. If the proposed amendment is not so approved and ratified, this act is void in its entirety.