2009 Property Tax Legislation
E2SHB 1208 – Property tax administration
This bill was requested by the county treasurers. The bill changes payment dates and interest charges for diking, drainage, or sewerage improvement district assessments to the same dates used for property taxes. It also requires that property tax refund claims be made within three years of the due date for payment, and allows a county treasurer to accept a verification of payment rather than a stamp as evidence of payment of the real estate excise tax.
When property qualifies for relief under RCW 84.70.010, counties and other local taxing districts are allowed to exceed the 101 percent levy limitation through a refund levy process. This bill allows local taxing districts to raise revenues to recoup revenue lost due to taxes abated (in addition to refunds provided) for destroyed property. This provision is retroactive to January 1, 2009.
HB 1295 – Relating to agricultural fairs
Provides a process for cities and code cities to annex territory owned by counties and used for agricultural fairs.
2SHB 1484 – Relating to habitat open space
The bill provides an exemption from compensating tax and additional tax when certain private forest lands that contain critical habitat for threatened or endangered species are acquired by the Forest Practices Board. The bill also extends the exemption from compensating tax for land transferred to a governmental entity or certain nonprofit organizations devoted to historical preservation or nature conservancy to include the removal of designated forest land located in counties that have a population of more than 600,000.
HB 1619 – School levies used for M & O (maintenance and operation)
Allows funds raised by school districts through construction, modernization or remodeling levies to be used for painting, major equipment repair, and other preventative maintenance purposes. School districts may transfer funds from the district capital projects fund to the district general fund.
SHB 1733 – Relating to the property tax current use valuation programs
This bill provides that any land used primarily for equestrian activities such as stabling, training, riding, clinics, schooling, shows, or grazing for feed are eligible for current use valuation as farm and agricultural land.
The bill also provides that if property was originally granted the current use classification in error through no fault of the owner, there is no requirement to pay additional tax upon removal of the property from the current use classification.
EHB 1815– Relating to current use valuation under the farm and agricultural land classification
This bill expands the definition of "farm and agricultural land" to include any parcel of land that is five acres or greater, but less than twenty acres that:
Has a standing crop with an expected harvest within seven years. Landowners must show an investment in the crop of $100 or more per acre for the current or previous year. “Standing crop” is defined as Christmas trees, vineyards, fruit trees, or other perennial crops that are planted using agricultural methods normally used in commercial production of that particular crop and typically do not produce harvestable quantities in the initial years after planting;
Has a standing crop of short rotation hardwoods with an expectation of harvest within 15 years. Landowners must show an investment in the crop of $100 or more per acre for the current or previous year.
In addition to the expanded definition, the law still allows property that produces a gross income from agricultural purposes of $200 or more per acre per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application to qualify for the farm and agricultural land classification. If land was admitted to this classification prior to January 1, 1993, the property must produce a gross income from agricultural purposes of $100 or more per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application.
The bill also requires assessors to include on the notice of removal of property from current use classification, an explanation of the steps needed to appeal the removal.
HB 2331 – Increases document recording fees from $10 to $30.
Increases surcharge on document recording fees from $10.00 to $30.00. Increases costs for liens and release of liens filed for property tax deferral programs
2SSB 5045 – Regarding community revitalization financing
This bill creates a new local revitalization financing program. It authorizes cities and counties to create "revitalization areas" and allows certain increases in local sales and use tax revenues and local property tax revenues generated from within the area, additional funds from other local public sources, and a state contribution to be used for payment of bonds issued for financing local public improvements within the revitalization area.
This program is patterned after LIFT and has most of the same provisions as related to property tax. One difference is that under this new program, jurisdictions are not required to use the property tax component in order to get the state contribution. Another difference is that taxing districts must take formal action to opt out if they do not want to participate. The sponsoring jurisdiction must provide the county treasurer and the Department of Revenue with a list of taxing districts that have not chosen to opt out of the program.
The following demonstration projects designed to determine the feasibility of local revitalization financing are included in the bill:
SB 5355– Regarding initial levy rates for rural county library districts.
Allows that the petition and ballot establishing a rural county library district may include an initial maximum levy rate, not to exceed the statutory maximum rate.
SSB 5368 – Relating to making provisions for all counties to value property annually for property tax purposes
By January 1, 2014, all counties must revalue real property annually. Under current law counties must revalue property at least once every four years. There are 20 counties that revalue all property annually, 17 counties that revalue property on a four cycle, one county that revalues on a three year cycle and one county that revalues on a two year cycle. The bill requires the Department of Revenue to conduct a pilot project in one or more counties that are ready to move to annual revaluation by the end of 2009.
The bill establishes an annual property revaluation account to be used to provide financial assistance to counties converting to annual revaluation. The account is to be funded from an extension of a $5 fee on sales of real property that was set to expire June 30, 2010. Beginning July 1, 2010, the fee will be deposited into the annual property revaluation account. The Department of Revenue will administer a grant program to distribute the funds from this account.
Additionally, the bill requires the Department of Revenue to conduct advisory appraisals of industrial property valued in excess of $25 million when requested to do so by the assessor.
SSB 5401 – Relating to habitat open space
The bill provides an exemption from compensating tax and additional tax when certain private forest lands that contain critical habitat for threatened or endangered species are acquired by the Forest Practices Board. (The same changes were made in 2SHB 1484.)
SB 5426 – Annexation to a fire district.
Allows annexation to a fire protection district of certain areas of cities or towns between 5,000 and 10,000 in population.
2SSB 5433 – Relating to modifying provisions of local option taxes
This bill provides that property tax levy lid lift funds can be used to supplant existing funds beginning with levies submitted to and approved by the voters after July 26, 2009 in counties with a population less than 1,500,000. In counties with a population of 1,500,000 or more property tax levy lid lift funds can be used to supplant existing funds for levies approved by the voters after July 26, 2009 through 2011.
This bill also reduces ferry districts’ statutory maximum levy rate from $0.75 to $0.075 if the district’s population is greater than 1,500,000.
A new county transit regular levy is created with a statutory maximum levy rate of $0.075. This levy may be made only in counties with a population of at least 1,500,000. After the first year, the levy is subject to the 101% levy limit. It is not subject to the $5.90 limit, but is subject to the constitutional 1% levy limit.
The effective date of this bill is July 26, 2009.
SB 5680 – Relating to the property tax exemption for non profit artistic, scientific, historical, and performing arts organizations
Increases the number of days the exempt property may be used by entities that are not eligible for a property tax exemption from 25 to 50 days and the number of days that the property may be used for pecuniary gain from 7 to 15 days.
E2SSB 5688 – Further expanding the rights and responsibilities of state registered domestic partners
Adds persons registered in a domestic partnership to a number of existing statutes that refer to marital terms such as spouse, marriage, marital, husband, wife, widow, widower, etc.
ESSB 5901 – Relating to modifying provisions of the local infrastructure financing tool program
Updates provisions related to the local infrastructure financing tool (LIFT) to simplify administration. Allows funds to be used to pay for public improvements financed through other kinds of indebtedness, not just bonds. No substantive changes were made to property tax provisions.