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AGLO 1970 No. 041 - March 25, 1970
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Slade Gorton | 1969-1980 | Attorney General of Washington
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                                                                  March 25, 1970
Honorable R. Ted Bottiger
State Representative, 29th District
8849 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, Washington 98444
                                                                                                               Cite as:  AGLO 1970 No. 41
Dear Sir:
            This is written in response to your recent request for our opinion on a question pertaining to the application of chapter 251, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess.  Specifically, you have asked whether the effect of this enactment, amending RCW 84.60.010 with regard to property tax liens, would be to provide a lien upon personal property with respect to unpaid real property taxes ‑ and conversely, to provide a lien upon real property with respect to unpaid personal property taxes.
            We answer this question in the negative.  We base this answer to your question, essentially, upon the language of the statute (as amended) itself.  RCW 84.60.010, as amended by chapter 251, Laws of 1969, Ex. Sess., reads as follows:
            "All taxes and levies which may hereafter be lawfully imposed or assessed shall be and they are hereby declared to be a lien respectively upon the real and personal property upon which they may hereafter be imposed or assessed, which liens shall include all charges and expenses of and concerning the said taxes which, by the provisions of this title, are directed to be made.  The said lien shall have priority to and shall be fully paid and satisfied before any recognizance, mortgage, judgment, debt, obligation or responsibility to or with which said real and personal property may become charged or liable."  (New language underscored.)
            From this language, it would appear clear to us that the legislature intended that personal property taxes would become a lien only upon the personal property upon which the tax is imposed, and that real property taxes would become a lien only upon real property upon which the tax is imposed.   [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] We believe that the word "respectively" in the statute renders this intent apparent.
            Furthermore, we would point out that under another statute, RCW 84.60.040, there is an established procedure by which real property can be charged with personal property taxes.  This statute reads as follows:
            "When it becomes necessary, in the opinion of the county treasurer, to charge the tax on personal property against real property, in order that such personal property tax may be collected, such county treasurer shall select for that purpose some particular tract or lots of real property owned by the person owing such personal property tax, and in his tax roll and certificate of delinquency shall designate the particular tract or lots of real property against which such personal property tax is charged, and such real property shall be chargeable therewith."
            In view of this specific procedure for making personal property taxes chargeable against realty, it seems most unlikely to us that the legislature, by the 1969 amendment to RCW 84.60.010, supra, would have intended to provide for the same result by some sort of short cut or automatic procedure.  Indeed, to give the 1969 amendment to RCW 84.60.010 any effect different from that which we have reached above would be to make the procedural requirements of RCW 84.60.040, supra, a nullity.
            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
Assistant Attorney General
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