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May 21, 1970
Honorable R. Ted Bottiger
State Representative, 29th District
8849 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, Washington 98444
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 80
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion as to the applicability of the property tax exemption provided for by chapter 81, Laws of 1970, to certain property which is described in detail in your letter.
Under the provisions of § 1, chapter 81, Laws of 1970, the legislature provided for the following property tax exemption:
"Real or personal property owned and used by a nonprofit corporation in connection with the operation of a sheltered workshop for handicapped persons, and used primarily in connection with the manufacturing and the handling, sale or distribution of goods constructed, processed, or repaired in such workshops or centers."
Under § 2 of this act, the legislature specifically defined the term "sheltered workshop," for purposes of the exemption, as follows:
"'Sheltered workshop' means rehabilitation facility, or that part of a rehabilitation facility operated by a nonprofit corporation, where any manufacture or handiwork is carried on and which is operated for the primary purpose of (1) providing gainful employment or rehabilitation services to the handicapped as an interim step in the rehabilitation process for those who cannot be readily absorbed in the competitive labor market or during such time as employment opportunities for them in the competitive labor market do not exist; or (2) providing evaluation and work adjustment services for handicapped individuals."
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]]
Your question pertains to a nonprofit corporation which owns approximately forty acres of land, upon which acreage is located a sheltered workshop occupying approximately five acres. You have further described the facts pertaining to this tract of property as follows:
". . . The acreage upon which the sheltered workshop is located is used for a building, with five acres for parking for the employees, including the handicapped employees and also parking for customers of the retail store at which the products of the handicapped workers are sold. The balance of the thirty-five acres is either vacant or used for religious or recreational purposes."
Under the provisions of § 1, chapter 81, Laws of 1970, supra, the tax exemption provided for thereunder is applicable only to property which is
". . . used primarily in connection with the manufacturing and the handling, sale or distribution of goods constructed, processed, or repaired in such [sheltered] workshops or centers."
As a tax exemption, § 1, chapter 81, Laws of 1970, must, of course, be strictly construed in favor of taxation and against the allowance of an exemption therefrom. Thurston County v. Sisters of Charity, 14 Wash. 264, 44 Pac. 252 (1896); Spokane County v. Spokane, 169 Wash. 355, 13 P.2d 1084 (1932); Norwegian Lutheran Church v. Wooster, 176 Wash. 581, 30 P.2d 381 (1934); Boeing Aircraft Co. v. R.F.C., 25 Wn.2d 652, 171 P.2d 838 (1946). With this rule in mind, and noting particularly the qualifying portion of the statute in question which we have last quoted above, it is clear to us that the thirty-five acre portion of the tract in question which is either vacant or used for religious or recreational purposes would not qualify for the "sheltered workshop" tax exemption which is provided for by this 1970 statute. On the other hand, however, assuming that the facility in question falls within the statutory definition of a "sheltered workshop" as set forth in § 2, chapter 81, Laws of 1970, it would appear to us that the workshop itself and the five‑acre area used for employee and customer parking would qualify for the exemption.
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
TIMOTHY R. MALONE
Assistant Attorney General