ENGROSSED HOUSE BILL 1298
State of Washington 52nd Legislature 1991 Regular Session
By Representatives Wang, Holland, Nelson, Phillips, Fraser, Brumsickle, Rust, Ballard, Leonard, Horn, Haugen, May, Heavey, Ferguson, Jacobsen, O'Brien, Morris, Winsley, Appelwick, H. Sommers, Dorn, Belcher, Van Luven, Morton, Locke, Brekke, Pruitt, Spanel, Wineberry, Kremen, Cooper, Betrozoff, Jones, Franklin, Dellwo, H. Myers, Ogden, Bray, Cole, Roland, Basich, Scott and Anderson.
Read first time January 25, 1991. Referred to Committee on Revenue.
AN ACT Relating to implementing a constitutional amendment providing property tax exemptions for low-income homeowners; amending RCW 84.36.383, 84.36.385, 84.36.387, and 84.36.389; adding a new section to chapter 84.36 RCW; and providing a contingent effective date.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. A new section is added to chapter 84.36 RCW to read as follows:
A person who is not entitled for an exemption under RCW 84.36.381 shall be exempt from any legal obligation to pay all or a portion of the amount of excess and regular real property taxes due and payable in the year following the year in which a claim is filed, in accordance with the following:
(1) The property taxes must have been imposed upon a residence that was occupied by the person claiming the exemption as a principal place of residence as of January 1st of the year for which the exemption is claimed: PROVIDED, That a person who sells, transfers, or is displaced from his or her residence may transfer his or her exemption status to a replacement residence, but no claimant shall receive an exemption on more than one residence in a year: PROVIDED FURTHER, That confinement of the person to a hospital or nursing home shall not disqualify the claim of exemption if the residence is temporarily unoccupied or if the residence is occupied by a spouse or a person financially dependent on the claimant for support.
(2) The person claiming the exemption must have owned, at the time of filing, in fee, as a life estate, or by contract purchase, the residence on which the property taxes have been imposed or if the person claiming the exemption lives in a cooperative housing association, corporation, or partnership, such person must own a share representing the unit or portion of the structure in which he or she resides. For purposes of this subsection, a residence owned by a marital community or owned by cotenants is deemed to be owned by each spouse or cotenant, and a lease for life shall be deemed a life estate.
(3) The amount that the person is exempt from an obligation to pay shall be calculated on the basis of combined disposable income, as defined in RCW 84.36.383.
(4)(a) A person who otherwise qualifies under this section and has a combined disposable income of eighteen thousand dollars or less but greater than fifteen thousand dollars is exempt from all excess and regular property taxes on the greater of thirty thousand dollars or thirty percent of the valuation of his or her residence, but not to exceed fifty thousand dollars of the valuation of his or her residence; or
(b) A person who otherwise qualifies under this section and has a combined disposable income of fifteen thousand dollars or less is exempt from all excess and regular property taxes on the greater of thirty-four thousand dollars or fifty percent of the valuation of his or her residence.
Sec. 2. RCW 84.36.383 and 1991 c 213 s 4 are each amended to read as follows:
As used in RCW 84.36.381 through 84.36.389 and section 1 of this act, except where the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
The term "residence" shall mean a single family dwelling unit whether
such unit be separate or part of a multiunit dwelling, including the land on
which such dwelling stands not to exceed one acre. 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((
,)) or 84.04.090 (( or 84.40.250)),
such a residence shall be deemed real property.
(2) The term "real property" shall also include a mobile home which has substantially lost its identity as a mobile unit by virtue of its being fixed in location upon land owned or leased by the owner of the mobile home and placed on a foundation (posts or blocks) with fixed pipe, connections with sewer, water, or other utilities: PROVIDED, That a mobile home located on land leased by the owner of the mobile home shall be subject, for tax billing, payment, and collection purposes, only to the personal property provisions of chapter 84.56 RCW and RCW 84.60.040.
(3) The term "preceding calendar year" shall mean the calendar year preceding the year in which the claim for exemption is to be made.
(4) "Department" shall mean the state department of revenue.
(5) "Combined disposable income" means the disposable income of the person claiming the exemption, plus the disposable income of his or her spouse, and the disposable income of each cotenant occupying the residence for the preceding calendar year, less amounts paid by the person claiming the exemption or his or her spouse during the previous year for the treatment or care of either person received in the home or in a nursing home.
(6) "Disposable income" means adjusted gross income as defined in the federal internal revenue code, as amended prior to January 1, 1989, or such subsequent date as the director may provide by rule consistent with the purpose of this section, plus all of the following items to the extent they are not included in or have been deducted from adjusted gross income:
(a) Capital gains, other than nonrecognized gain on the sale of a principal residence under section 1034 of the federal internal revenue code, or gain excluded from income under section 121 of the federal internal revenue code to the extent it is reinvested in a new principal residence;
(b) Amounts deducted for loss;
(c) Amounts deducted for depreciation;
(d) Pension and annuity receipts;
(e) Military pay and benefits other than attendant-care and medical-aid payments;
(f) Veterans benefits other than attendant-care and medical-aid payments;
(g) Federal social security act and railroad retirement benefits;
(h) Dividend receipts; and
(i) Interest received on state and municipal bonds.
(7) "Cotenant" means a person who resides with the person claiming the exemption and who has an ownership interest in the residence.
Sec. 3. RCW 84.36.385 and 1988 c 222 s 10 are each amended to read as follows:
claim for exemption under RCW 84.36.381 ((
as now or hereafter amended,))
shall be made and filed at any time during the year for exemption from taxes
payable the following year and thereafter and solely upon forms as prescribed
and furnished by the department of revenue.
A person granted an exemption under RCW 84.36.381 shall inform the county assessor of any change in status affecting the person's entitlement to the exemption on forms prescribed and furnished by the department of revenue.
A claim for exemption under section 1 of this act shall be made annually and filed at any time during the year for exemption from taxes payable the following year. The claim must be made upon forms as prescribed and furnished by the department of revenue.
assessor finds that the applicant does not meet the qualifications as set forth
in RCW 84.36.381((
, as now or hereafter amended,)) or section 1 of
this act the claim or exemption shall be denied but such denial shall be
subject to appeal under the provisions of RCW 84.48.010(5). If the applicant
had received exemption in prior years based on erroneous information, the taxes
shall be collected subject to penalties as provided in RCW 84.40.130 for a
period of not to exceed three years.
The department and each local assessor is hereby directed to publicize the qualifications and manner of making claims under RCW 84.36.381 through 84.36.389 and section 1 of this act, through communications media, including such paid advertisements or notices as it deems appropriate. Notice of the qualifications, method of making applications, the penalties for not reporting a change in status, and availability of further information shall be included on or with property tax statements and revaluation notices for all residential property including mobile homes, except rental properties.
Sec. 4. RCW 84.36.387 and 1980 c 185 s 6 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) All claims for exemption under RCW 84.36.381 or section 1 of this act shall be made and signed by the person entitled to the exemption, by his or her attorney in fact or in the event the residence of such person is under mortgage or purchase contract requiring accumulation of reserves out of which the holder of the mortgage or contract is required to pay real estate taxes, by such holder or by the owner, either before two witnesses or the county assessor or his deputy in the county where the real property is located: PROVIDED, That if a claim for exemption is made by a person living in a cooperative housing association, corporation, or partnership, such claim shall be made and signed by the person entitled to the exemption and by the authorized agent of such cooperative.
(2) If the taxpayer is unable to submit his own claim, the claim shall be submitted by a duly authorized agent or by a guardian or other person charged with the care of the person or property of such taxpayer.
(3) Any person signing a false claim with the intent to defraud or evade the payment of any tax shall be guilty of the offense of perjury.
(4) The tax liability of a cooperative housing association, corporation, or partnership shall be reduced by the amount of tax exemption to which a claimant residing therein is entitled and such cooperative shall reduce any amount owed by the claimant to the cooperative by such exact amount of tax exemption or, if no amount be owed, the cooperative shall make payment to the claimant of such exact amount of exemption.
(5) A remainderman or other person who would have otherwise paid the tax on real property that is the subject of an exemption granted under RCW 84.36.381 or section 1 of this act for an estate for life shall reduce the amount which would have been payable by the life tenant to the remainderman or other person to the extent of the exemption. If no amount is owed or separately stated as an obligation between these persons, the remainderman or other person shall make payment to the life tenant in the exact amount of the exemption.
Sec. 5. RCW 84.36.389 and 1979 ex.s. c 214 s 4 are each amended to read as follows:
The director of the department of revenue shall adopt such rules ((
regulations)) and prescribe such forms as may be necessary and appropriate
for implementation and administration of this chapter subject to chapter 34.05
RCW, the administrative procedure act.
(2) The department may conduct such audits of the administration of RCW 84.36.381 through 84.36.389 and section 1 of this act and the claims for exemption filed thereunder as it considers necessary. The powers of the department under chapter 84.08 RCW apply to these audits.
(3) Any information or facts concerning confidential income data obtained by the assessor or the department, or their agents or employees, under subsection (2) of this section shall be used only to administer RCW 84.36.381 through 84.36.389 and section 1 of this act. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, absent written consent by the person about whom the information or facts have been obtained, the confidential income data shall not be disclosed by the assessor or the assessor's agents or employees to anyone other than the department or the department's agents or employees nor by the department or the department's agents or employees to anyone other than the assessor or the assessor's agents or employees except in a judicial proceeding pertaining to the taxpayer's entitlement to the tax exemption under RCW 84.36.381 through 84.36.389 and section 1 of this act. Any violation of this subsection is a misdemeanor.
NEW SECTION. Sec. 6. If the proposed amendment to Article 7 of the state Constitution authorizing low-income property tax relief is validly submitted to and is approved and ratified by the voters at a general election held in November 1992, sections 1 through 5 of this act shall take effect immediately upon certification of the election and shall be effective for taxes levied for collection in 1993 and thereafter. The department of revenue and the county assessors shall take all necessary steps to ensure that this act is implemented immediately upon becoming effective. If the proposed amendment is not so approved and ratified, sections 1 through 5 of this act are void in their entirety.