|State of Washington||61st Legislature||2009 Regular Session|
Read first time 01/29/09. Referred to Committee on Finance.
AN ACT Relating to current use valuation under the property tax open space program; and amending RCW 84.34.020 and 84.34.108.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
Sec. 1 RCW 84.34.020 and 2005 c 57 s 1 are each amended to read
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, or (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) preserve visual quality along highway, road, and street corridors or scenic vistas, or (viii) retain in its natural state tracts of land not less than one acre 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, or (c) any land meeting the definition of farm and agricultural conservation land under subsection (8) of this section. As a condition of granting open space classification, the legislative body may not require public access on land classified under (b)(iii) of this subsection for the purpose of promoting conservation of wetlands.
(2) "Farm and agricultural land" means:
(a) Any parcel of land that is twenty or more acres or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total twenty or more acres:
(i) Devoted primarily to the production of livestock or agricultural commodities for commercial purposes;
(ii) Enrolled in the federal conservation reserve program or its successor administered by the United States department of agriculture; or
(iii) Other similar commercial activities as may be established by rule;
(b)(i) Any parcel of land that is 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, as of January 1, 1993:
(A) 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 for all parcels of land that are classified under this subsection or all parcels of land for which an application for classification under this subsection is made with the granting authority prior to January 1, 1993; and
(B) On or after January 1, 1993, two 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;
(ii) For the purposes of (b)(i) of this subsection, "gross income from agricultural uses" includes, but is not limited to, the wholesale value of agricultural products donated to nonprofit food banks or feeding programs;
(c) Any parcel of land of less than five acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses which has produced a gross income as of January 1, 1993, of:
(i) One thousand dollars or more per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification under this chapter for all parcels of land that are classified under this subsection or all parcels of land for which an application for classification under this subsection is made with the granting authority prior to January 1, 1993; and
(ii) On or after January 1, 1993, fifteen hundred dollars or more per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification under this chapter.
Parcels of land described in (b)(i)(A) and (c)(i) of this subsection shall, upon any transfer of the property excluding a transfer to a surviving spouse, be subject to the limits of (b)(i)(B) and (c)(ii) of this subsection;
(d) Any parcel of land that is five acres or more but less than twenty acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses, which meet one of the following criteria:
(i) Has produced a gross income from agricultural uses equivalent to two 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;
(ii) Has standing crops with an expectation of harvest within seven years, except as provided in (d)(iii) of this subsection, and a demonstrable investment in the production of those crops equivalent to one hundred dollars or more per acre in the current or previous calendar year; or
(iii) Has a standing crop of short rotation hardwoods with an expectation of harvest within fifteen years and a demonstrable investment in the production of those crops equivalent to one hundred dollars or more per acre in the current or previous calendar year;
(e) Any lands including incidental uses as are compatible with agricultural purposes, including wetlands preservation, provided such incidental use does not exceed twenty percent of the classified land 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"; or
(e))) (f) The land on which housing for employees and the
principal place of residence of the farm operator or owner of land
classified pursuant to (a) of this subsection is sited if: The housing
or residence is on or contiguous to the classified parcel; and the use
of the housing or the residence is integral to the use of the
classified land for agricultural purposes.
(3) "Timber land" means any parcel of land that is five or more acres or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total five or more acres which is or are devoted primarily to the growth and harvest of timber for commercial purposes. Timber land means the land only and does not include a residential homesite. The term includes land used for incidental uses that are compatible with the growing and harvesting of timber but no more than ten percent of the land may be used for such incidental uses. It also includes the land on which appurtenances necessary for the production, preparation, or sale of the timber products exist in conjunction with land producing these products.
(4) "Current" or "currently" means as of the date on which property is to be listed and valued by the 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) "Granting authority" means the appropriate agency or official who acts on an application for classification of land pursuant to this chapter.
(8) "Farm and agricultural conservation land" means either:
(a) Land that was previously classified under subsection (2) of this section, that no longer meets the criteria of subsection (2) of this section, and that is reclassified under subsection (1) of this section; or
(b) Land that is traditional farmland that is not classified under chapter 84.33 or 84.34 RCW, that has not been irrevocably devoted to a use inconsistent with agricultural uses, and that has a high potential for returning to commercial agriculture.
Sec. 2 RCW 84.34.108 and 2007 c 54 s 25 are each amended to read
(1) When land has once been classified under this chapter, a notation of the classification shall be made each year upon the assessment and tax rolls and the land shall be valued pursuant to RCW 84.34.060 or 84.34.065 until removal of all or a portion of the classification by the assessor upon occurrence of any of the following:
(a) Receipt of notice from the owner to remove all or a portion of the classification;
(b) Sale or transfer to an ownership, except a transfer that resulted from a default in loan payments made to or secured by a governmental agency that intends to or is required by law or regulation to resell the property for the same use as before, making all or a portion of the land exempt from ad valorem taxation;
(c) Sale or transfer of all or a portion of the land to a new owner, unless the new owner has signed a notice of classification continuance, except transfer to an owner who is an heir or devisee of a deceased owner shall not, by itself, result in removal of classification. The notice of continuance shall be on a form prepared by the department. 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 (4) of this section shall become due and payable by the seller or transferor at time of sale. The auditor shall not accept an instrument of conveyance regarding classified land for filing or recording unless the new owner has signed the notice of continuance or the additional tax has been paid, as evidenced by the real estate excise tax stamp affixed thereto by the treasurer. The seller, transferor, or new owner may appeal the new assessed valuation calculated under subsection (4) of this section to the county board of equalization in accordance with the provisions of RCW 84.40.038. 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 the land no longer meets the criteria for classification under this chapter. The criteria for classification pursuant to this chapter continue to apply after classification has been granted. The written notice by the assessor must provide information regarding the process to appeal a determination by a county assessor under this subsection (1)(d) including timelines, petition forms, and county board of equalization contact information.
The granting authority, upon request of an assessor, shall provide reasonable assistance to the assessor in making a determination whether the land continues to meet the qualifications of RCW 84.34.020 (1) or (3). The assistance shall be provided within thirty days of receipt of the request.
(2) Land may not be removed from classification because of:
(a) The creation, sale, or transfer of forestry riparian easements under RCW 76.13.120; or
(b) The creation, sale, or transfer of a fee interest or a conservation easement for the riparian open space program under RCW 76.09.040.
(3) Within thirty days after such removal of all or a portion of the land from current use classification, the assessor shall notify the owner in writing, setting forth the reasons for the removal. The seller, transferor, or owner may appeal the removal to the county board of equalization in accordance with the provisions of RCW 84.40.038.
(4) Unless the removal is reversed on appeal, the assessor shall revalue the affected land with reference to its true and fair value on January 1st of the year 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 (6) of this section, an additional tax, applicable interest, and penalty shall be imposed which shall be due and payable to the 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 additional tax, applicable interest, and penalty and the treasurer shall mail notice to the owner of the amount thereof and the date on which payment is due. The amount of the additional tax, applicable interest, and penalty shall be determined as follows:
(a) The amount of additional tax shall be equal to the difference between the property tax paid as "open space land," "farm and agricultural land," or "timber land" and the amount of property tax otherwise due and payable for the seven years last past had the land not been so classified;
(b) The amount of applicable interest shall be equal to the interest upon the amounts of the additional tax paid at the same statutory rate charged on delinquent property taxes from the dates on which the additional tax could have been paid without penalty if the land had been assessed at a value without regard to this chapter;
(c) The amount of the penalty shall be as provided in RCW 84.34.080. The penalty shall not be imposed if the removal satisfies the conditions of RCW 84.34.070.
(5) Additional tax, applicable interest, and penalty, shall become a lien on the land which shall attach at the time the land is removed from 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 the land may become charged or liable. This 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. 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.
(6) The additional tax, applicable interest, and penalty specified in subsection (4) of this section shall not be imposed if the removal of classification 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)(i) A taking through the exercise of the power of eminent domain, or (ii) sale or transfer to an entity having the power of eminent domain in anticipation of the exercise of such power, said entity having manifested its intent in writing or by other official action;
(c) 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 the property;
(d) 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 the land;
(e) Transfer of land to a church when the land would qualify for exemption pursuant to RCW 84.36.020;
(f) 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. 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 (4) of this section shall be imposed;
(g) Removal of land classified as farm and agricultural land under RCW 84.34.020(2)((
(h) Removal of land from classification after enactment of a statutory exemption that qualifies the land for exemption and receipt of notice from the owner to remove the land from classification;
(i) The creation, sale, or transfer of forestry riparian easements under RCW 76.13.120;
(j) The creation, sale, or transfer of a fee interest or a conservation easement for the riparian open space program under RCW 76.09.040; or
(k) The sale or transfer of land within two years after the death of the owner of at least a fifty percent interest in the land if the land has been assessed and valued as classified forest land, designated as forest land under chapter 84.33 RCW, or classified under this chapter continuously since 1993. The date of death shown on a death certificate is the date used for the purposes of this subsection (6)(k).