2013 Legislative Summary

Property Tax Bills – Passed in 2013 Regular and Special Sessions

The following is a summary of the significant property tax legislation approved during the regular and second special sessions of the 2013 Washington State Legislature.

HB 1277 Tribes acquiring property interests in classified and designated land
2SHB 1416 Relating to the financing of irrigation district improvements
EHB 1421 Relating to protecting the state's interest in collecting deferred property taxes
ESHB 1432 Relating to county property tax levies
EHB 1493 Relating to the property taxation of mobile homes and park model trailers
HB 1576 Relating to creating greater efficiency in the offices of county assessors by allowing notification via electronic means
E2SSB 5078 Relating to modifying the property tax exemption for nonprofit fairs
SSB 5332 Relating to voter-approved benefit charges for fire protection districts
SSB 5444 Relating to administration of taxes regarding publicly owned property
SB 5593 Relating to filing requirements for property tax exemption claims for certain improvements to benefit fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, or water quantity
SB 5627 Relating to the taxation of commuter air carriers
SSB 5705 Relating to amounts received by taxing districts from property tax refunds and abatements
SB 5806 Relating to repealing an obsolete provision for a credit against property taxes paid on timber on public land

HB 1277 This bill adds federally recognized Indian tribes to the list of entities that can acquire property interests in land classified under chapter 84.34 RCW and designated under chapter 84.33 RCW for conservation-related purposes. Under certain circumstances, land may be removed from classification or designation without the payment of additional tax or compensating tax when the tribe acquires this interest. Property tax statutes that are amended include RCW 64.04.130.

2SHB1416 This bill changes various provisions governing local improvement districts created by irrigation districts. The definition of “local government” was changed to exclude irrigation districts. As a result, classified farm and agricultural land and timber land will be subject to certain types of special benefit assessments imposed by irrigation districts. Property tax statutes that are amended include RCW 84.34.310.

EHB 1421 This bill was requested by the Department of Revenue to improve the Department’s ability to collect deferred property taxes. The bill clarifies how proceeds received by counties when tax title properties are sold should be applied to the county’s costs of foreclosure /sale, deferral liens (if any) and then to other taxing district interests. The bill:

  • Directs the disposition of proceeds from a county’s sale of tax title property (property acquired at a property tax foreclosure sale). After reimbursements to the county costs of foreclosure and sale, the proceeds are applied first to outstanding deferred property taxes, next to discharge remaining general tax liens and then to the taxing authorities statutorily entitled to share in the remaining sale proceeds.
  • Allows the Department to charge off as uncollectible any deferred taxes if the Department is satisfied that there are no cost-effective means of collecting the amount due.

ESHB 1432 This bill allows the county legislative authority to levy less than the statutory minimum rate for the Veterans’ Assistance and Mental Health earmarked funds. The bill; • Provides an alternative method to determine levy amounts for the Veterans’ Assistance Fund and Developmental Disability and Mental Health levies and allows county legislative authorities the ability to increase or decrease such levies by the same percentage increase or decrease in the certified county general levy from the prior year instead of levying the statutory rates.

  • Allows counties to increase the levy amounts for the Veterans’ Assistance or Developmental Disability and Mental Health levies more than the percentage change in the county general levy.
  • Excludes amounts for refund levies and voter-approved lid lifts when counties calculate the percentage increase or decrease in the certified county general levy.

EHB 1493 The bill: Provides that a manufactured or mobile home park landlord taking ownership of a manufactured or mobile home (premises) through abandonment or foreclosure proceedings, with the intent to resell or rent the same, becomes responsible for all outstanding property taxes, interest, and penalties on the premises if:

  • the most recent assessed value of the premises is less than $8,000; and
  • The landlord submits a signed affidavit to the county assessor indicating that the landlord has taken ownership of the premises with the intent to resell or rent after:
    • The premises was abandoned, or
    • Title to the premises was lawfully transferred to the landlord after a final judgment of restitution.

HB 1576 This bill allows county assessors to send assessments, notices, and any other information to persons electronically instead of regular mail if certain criteria are met, including;

  • The taxpayer authorizes the electronic means; and
  • The assessor uses reasonable methods to protect confidential information, unless the taxpayer waives this requirement.
  • Allows for the notice to be electronic mail or other electronic means.
  • Property tax statutes that are amended include RCW 84.09

E2SSB 5078 This bill revises RCW 84.36.480 to provide certain fairs a full exemption for fair properties despite their use/rental for non fair purposes in the off-season. The bill also introduces a limitation of assessed value that excludes the Puyallup fair from exemption under this statute. Specifically the bill:

  • Clarifies that the existing property tax exemption is allowed for a nonprofit fair association that are eligible to receive support from the fair fund.
  • Establishes a new exemption for the property of certain nonprofit fair associations used for fair purposes if the majority of the property was purchased or acquired from a city or county between 1995 and 1998.
  • Limits both the current and new exemptions to nonprofit fair associations with real and personal property having an assessed value not exceeding $15 million. This new limitation precludes the Washington State Fair from receiving a property tax exemption after the effective date of the bill.

SSB 5332 This bill changes the voter approval requirement for the continuation of benefit charges imposed by fire protection districts from a super majority to a majority requirement. The super majority voter approval requirement for initial imposition is unchanged.

SSB 5444 This bill:

  • Eliminates the requirement that county assessors annually value tax-exempt government owned properties;
  • When property previously owned by government entities is sold to a taxable ownership the bill requires county assessors to value and list the previously tax-exempt government property beginning January 1 of the year in which the tax exempt status changes; and
  • The bill eliminates the leasehold excise tax credit for amounts that are in excess of the amount of property tax that would have applied if the lessee or sub-lessee owned the property.

SB 5593 This bill requires landowners to claim the property tax exemption for habitat improvements designed to benefit fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, or water quantity to file application & renewal claims by October 31st of the assessment year, for taxes due during the following year. When renewing the exemption for subsequent years, the landowner must provide a copy of the conservation district’s initial certification and the landowner's own current year certification.

SB 5627 This bill:

  • Exempts from property tax airplanes operated by a commuter air carrier whose ground property and equipment are located primarily on private property; and
  • Subjects aircraft owned and operated by a commuter air carrier to a new weight-based aircraft excise tax of between $500 and $4,000.

SSB 5705

  • Allows taxing districts to levy taxes to recoup cancelled taxes, offset by any amounts received for supplemental taxes such as those paid after property is removed from the current use or designated forest land programs. The constitutional one percent limit, the statutory dollar rate limit, and the aggregate dollar rate limit apply to the refund fund levy.
  • Allows county treasurers to authorize partial payment agreements on past due property taxes, which must include payment of the oldest delinquent tax year, including penalties and interest, within a 12-month period.
  • Prohibits county treasurers from assessing additional penalties on delinquent taxes if the taxpayer is successfully participating in a payment agreement for the delinquent taxes.
  • Authorizes county treasurers to assess specifically identifiable costs incurred in trying to keep property out of foreclose (“tax foreclosure avoidance costs,”) before filing a certificate of delinquency to initiate the foreclosure process.
  • Authorizes county treasurers to impose a delinquent collection charge for costs incurred by the treasurer in collecting past due personal property taxes.

SB 5806 This bill repeals an obsolete credit against the forest excise tax (timber tax) for property taxes paid upon privately owned timber standing on public lands. Property tax has not applied to privately-owned timber standing on public lands since January 1, 2005.

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