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January 20, 1970
Honorable George F. Hanigan
P.O. Box 56
Cathlamet, Wa. 98612
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 9
This is written in response to your recent letter requesting our opinion on the question pertaining to the eligibility of a certain individual for an exemption from the first fifty dollars in real property taxation pursuant to RCW 84.36.128.
Your question, as we understand it, is whether a single person applying for his exemption must meet the requirements of both subsection (5) and subsection (6) of RCW 84.35.128, in order to qualify for the exemption. We answer this question in the affirmative.
RCW 84.36.128 was enacted by the 1967 legislature, pursuant to § 1, chapter 132, Laws of 1967, Ex. Sess., in implementation of Amendment 47 to the State Constitution. This statute reads as follows:
"A person shall be exempt from any legal obligation to pay the first fifty dollars of real property taxes due and payable in any one year if the following conditions are met:
"(1) The property taxes must have been imposed upon a residence which has been regularly occupied by the person claiming the exemption during the five calendar years preceding the year for which the exemption is claimed; or the property taxes must have been imposed upon a residence which has been regularly occupied by the person claiming the exemption during the preceding calendar year and the person claiming the exemption must also have been a resident of the state of Washington for the last ten calendar years, preceding the year for which the exemption is claimed.
"(2) The person claiming the exemption must have owned, at the time of filing, in fee, by contract [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] purchase, or by deed of trust, the residence on which the property taxes have been imposed. For purposes of this subsection, a residence owned by a marital community shall be deemed to be owned by each spouse.
"(3) If the person claiming the exemption is a male, he must have been sixty-five years of age or older on February 15th of the year in which the exemption is claimed, or must have been, at the time of filing, totally disabled and as such retired under a public or private retirement plan.
"(4) If the person claiming the exemption is a female, she must have been sixty-two years of age or older on February 15th of the year in which the exemption is claimed.
"(5) No person who, during the preceding calendar year, has regularly occupied the residence on which the taxes have been imposed shall have received during the preceding calendar year any earnings of the type and amount which would cause any deduction from social security benefits for a recipient of such benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 403: Provided, however, That this subsection shall not apply with respect to an occupant who is related to the person claiming the exemption and who is either a student under the age of twenty-five who is pursuing a full course of studies or who is making payments as a sharing of the expenses of maintaining the residence not in excess of one hundred dollars per month.
"(6) The combined income, from all sources whatsoever, of the person claiming the exemption and his or her spouse shall not have been in excess of three thousand dollars for the preceding calendar year." (Emphasis supplied.)
Clearly, each and every one of the six subsections set forth in this statute states a condition which must be met by a person claiming the tax exemption. We can see no basis for allowing exemption to a person who is unable to meet all of these conditions.
[[Orig. Op. Page 3]]
However, alluding now to a subordinate issue set forth in your letter, we likewise can see no basis for interpreting subsection (6) to limit the qualifying income of a single person to $1500. We read this subsection to mean, simply, that the combined income of the applicant, and his spouse (if any) shall not have been in excess of $3000 for the preceding calendar year.
Therefore, within the context of your question, the critical conditions to be met by the individual in question are:
(1) That this individual's total income, from all sources whatsoever, shall not have exceeded $3000 for the preceding calendar year ‑ as specified in subsection (6); and
(2) That of this income, no portion thereof shall be of such type and amount as to have caused a deduction from social security benefits pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 403 ‑ as provided by subsection (5).
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General