2011 Legislative Summary


Property Tax Bills – Passed in 2011 Regular Session

ESHB 1026 Changing provisions relating to adverse possession claims
HB 1649 Concerning reciprocity and statutory construction with regard to domestive partnerships
HB 1731 Concerning the formation, operation, and governance of regional fire protection service authorities
ESHB 1826 Providing taxpayers additional appeal protections for value changes
HB 1854 Concerning the annexation of territory by regional fire protection service authorities
EHB 1969 Concerning the exemption of flood control zone districts that are coextensive with a county from certain limitations upon regular property tax levies
SB 5167 Concerning tax statute clarifications and technical corrections, including for the purposes of local rental car taxes
SB 5253 Concerning tax increment financing for landscape conservation and local infrastructure
SB 5359 Concerning contiguous land under current open space property tax programs
SB 5595 Concerning the distribution of the public utility district privilege tax
SB 5628 Concerning a limited property tax exemption from the emergency medical services levy
SB 5638 Concerning the exemption of flood control zone districts that are coextensive with a county from certain limitations upon regular property tax levies while protecting the other levies from prorationing

ESHB 1026 A party who prevails against the holder of recorded title at the time an adverse possession action is filed, or against a later purchaser of the title, may be required to reimburse that holder or purchaser for part or all of any taxes and assessments on the property that the losing party paid during the period of adverse possession. The court also may require the prevailing party to pay to the county treasurer part or all of any taxes and assessments levied on the property after the filing of the claim that are due and remain unpaid at the time of judgment. If the court orders payment or reimbursement of taxes and assessments, the court must decide how to allocate the taxes and assessment based on all the facts and in a way that appears equitable and just. The court may award costs and reasonable attorneys' fees to the prevailing party in an action asserting title to real property by adverse possession if the court determines that an award is equitable and just. This act applies to adverse possession actions filed on or after July 1, 2012.


HB 1649 This bill allows same sex marriages and other legal unions formed in other jurisdictions to be treated the same as a domestic partnership.


HB 1731 This bill provides new structures and terms of service for who can serve as a commissioner for a Regional Fire Protection Service Authority. The bill defines the qualifications, compensation, terms, and responsibilities of the commissioners. The bill further clarifies which jurisdictions may participate in an Authority (including municipal airports) and continues to limit the Authority’s levy based on the levies of the participating jurisdictions. The bill is effective July 22, 2011.


ESHB 1826 The purpose of this bill is to provide a property owner the right to appeal their property valuation even though the value did not change if the property was within a revaluation area and the taxpayer was not sent a notice of value change. The measure provides that a county board of equalization must waive the appeal deadline, if a request is filed within a reasonable time after the appeal deadline, if the taxpayer’s property was in the current revaluation area, the property value did not change, the taxpayer was not sent a notice, and the taxpayer did not file an appeal prior to July 1 of the assessment year. The bill will take effect July 22, 2011, and will apply to property taxes levied for collection in 2012 and thereafter.


HB 1854 This bill provides a process for a fire protection jurisdiction to annex into an adjacent regional fire protection service authority. The annexation must be approved by a simple majority vote of the voters in the fire protection jurisdiction. As the regional fire protection service authority sets the property tax levy rate, the levy rate within the fire protection service authority annexed may change. The bill is effective July 22, 2011.


EHB 1969 The purpose of the bill is to protect the King County flood control zone district from a potential loss of revenue due to proration of its levy should the aggregate local regular levy exceed $5.90. This bill provides limited protection of the regular property tax levy from proration for a flood control zone taxing district located in a county with a population of 775,000 or more and whose boundaries are coextensive with the county. For those districts, $0.25 of their regular property tax levy is outside of the $5.90 limit. The bill changes the process for adjusting levies if the combined levy exceeds the $5.90 limit for other flood control district levies and junior taxing districts. The protected portion of the levy of the flood control district is still within the one percent limit and would be the first levy prorated if the aggregate of all levies exceeds the one percent limit. The unprotected portion of the flood control district levy and levies of other flood control zones would continue to be subject to proration. The bill is effective July 22, 2011, and applies to property taxes levied for collection in 2012 through 2017. The bill expires January 1, 2018.


SB 5167 The purpose of the bill was to make technical corrections to excise tax and property tax statutes. It also changed the distribution limitation of the local car rental tax. For property tax statutes, the legislation makes technical changes to clarify the eligibility requirements for veterans with a service connected disability to qualify for the senior citizen and disabled person property tax exemption. It also corrects requirements for the assessor to notify persons receiving the senior exemption from four to six years to coincide with the legislation passed in 2010. Both of these changes go into effect on July 22, 2011.


SB 5253 The purpose of the bill is to provide qualifying cities within King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties with a tax increment financing program to fund infrastructure improvements. To qualify, cities must participate in a transfer of development rights program and meet certain requirements. In general, a portion of incremental increases in regular property tax revenue of a sponsoring city and the county in which the city resides as a result of new construction in a specified area are used by the sponsoring city to fund the local public infrastructure projects in that same area. Taxing districts other than the cities and counties are not impacted. The bill also provides for the transfer of development rights from rural land to cities to be used within the infrastructure project area..


SB 5359 The purpose of the bill is to allow families to farm or grow and harvest trees on contiguous properties as a single operation and have the land value based on current use rather than market value. The bill expands the definition of “same ownership” to include parcels owned by different people that are managed as a single operation and owned by:

  • Members of the same family, as defined in the bill;
  • Legal entities wholly owned by members of the same family; or
  • An individual who owns at least one of the parcels and/or a legal entity or entities that own the other parcel or parcels if the entity or entities are wholly owned by that individual, members of his or her family, or that individual and members of his or her family. The bill adds the definition of “contiguous” to the designated forest land program. The bill is effective July 22, 2011.


SB 5595 The purpose of the bill is to require Okanogan County to distribute 30 percent of the local public utility district (PUD) tax revenue evenly to the cities of Pateros and Brewster. This bill does not impact the state share of the PUD privilege tax. The bill changes the distribution of the county share of the PUD tax in a special and limited circumstance. It allocates a portion of the PUD tax to a city where property of another county’s PUD is located in the city but the PUD does not distribute electricity within that city. The bill is effective July 22, 2011, and will apply to the distribution in 2012 and thereafter.


SB 5628 The purpose of this bill is to clarify that the City of Milton or any fire district or other qualified district that includes the City of Milton can impose an emergency medical service levy of 50 cents throughout the city despite the city being located in both King and Pierce Counties. Additionally, the bill is intended to ensure that the owners of property in the King County portion of the City of Milton will not have to pay for two EMS levies that could result from the layering of the King County EMS levy and a City of Milton (or fire district) levy. The bill provides that, for purposes of imposing a medical emergency property tax levy, the boundary of a county with a population greater than 1,500,000 does not include the area located within a city that has a boundary in two counties. The locally assessed value of all the property in the area of the city within the county with a population greater than 1,500,000 must be less than $250,000,000.


SB 5638 This measure corrects and clarifies unintended issues that arose following amendments to EHB 1969. It restricts the changes to levy prorationing introduced by EHB 1969 to counties with a population of 775,000 or more. This bill is effective August 24, 2011, and applies to property taxes levied for collection in 2012 through 2017. The bill expires January 1, 2018.


Join our Newsletter Distribution List

To be notified when new editions of our quarterly newsletter "Property Tax Review" are available please e-mail Harold Smith at Harolds@dor.wa.gov and join our distribution list. Get articles on a variety of property tax related topics, a current listing of training opportunities available to assessment personnel, legislative updates, a staff contact list for the Department of Revenue's Property Tax Division, and more. Feel free to suggest topics or suggestions for the newsletter.