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January 16, 1970
The Honorable Don L. Talley
State Senator, 18th District
Washington State Senate
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 6
This is written in response to your recent request for our opinion on a question pertaining to the tax exempt status on a private, non-profit [[nonprofit]]cemetery.
The governing statutes on this subject are RCW 84.36.020 and RCW 68.20.110. The first of these statutes provides, in material part, that:
"The following property shall be exempt from taxation:
"All lands used exclusively for public burying grounds or cemeteries without discrimination as to race, color, national origin or ancestry; . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)
The second statute above cited, RCW 68.20.110, pertains only to cemetery associations created pursuant to chapter 158, Laws of 1895 (now codified as chapter 24.16 RCW) and provides in material part, as follows:
"Such association shall be authorized to purchase or take by gift or devise, and hold land exempt from execution and from any appropriation to public purposes, for the sole purpose of a cemetery not exceeding eighty acres, which shall be exempt from taxation if intended to be used exclusively for burial purposes, and in nowise with a view to profit of the members of such association: . . ." (Emphasis supplied.)
The question of whether a particular private, nonprofit cemetery association is or is not using its premises for purposes other than burial, so as to lose its tax exempt status, is strictly a factual question to be determined by the county assessor of the county in which the cemetery is located. If he finds that the cemetery association in question is not using its property exclusively for burial purposes, it would follow [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] that the property should be placed on the tax rolls.
It is hoped the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General