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AGO 1963 No. 75 - December 16, 1963
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John J. O'Connell | 1957-1968 | Attorney General of Washington


CITIES AND TOWNS ‑- PROPERTY PURCHASED AT FORECLOSURE SALE BECAUSE OF DELINQUENT LOCAL IMPROVEMENT ASSESSMENTS ‑- PROPERTY SUBJECT TO TAX LEVIED DURING PERIOD OF REDEMPTION.

When real property is sold to a city at a foreclosure sale because of delinquent local improvement assessments the property is subject to general taxes levied during period allowed for redemption.

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                                                               December 16, 1963

Honorable Richard A. Nelle
Prosecuting Attorney
Whatcom County
Court House, 311 Grand Avenue
Bellingham, Washington

                                                                                                                Cite as:  AGO 63-64 No. 75

Dear Sir:

            By a previously acknowledged letter you have requested an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            When real property is sold to a city upon foreclosure because of delinquent local improvement assessments, is the property subject to general taxes levied during the period allowed for redemption?

            We answer your question in the affirmative.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The foreclosure of property because of delinquent local improvement assessments is governed by § 1, chapter 9, Laws of 1933 (cf. chapter 35.50 RCW).  This act provides, inter alia, that when the property is offered for sale and no person makes an offer, the same shall be sold to the city or town and a certificate of purchase issued.

            The property sold pursuant to the provisions of the act is subject to redemption within two years from the date of sale, and after the expiration of the two-year period, with no redemption, a deed is issued to the purchaser, in this case the city.  RCW 35.50.190, RCW 35.50.200.

            Section 1, chapter 107, Laws of 1933 (cf. RCW 35.53.010, 35.53.020) reads as follows:

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            "Whenever any property shall be bid in by any city or town or be stricken off to any city or town under and by virtue of any proceeding or proceedings provided in this act said property shall be held in trust by said city or town for the fund of the improvement district for the creation of which fund said assessment was levied and for the collection of which assessment said property was sold:  Provided, Such city or town may at any time after the procuring of a deed pay in to such fund the amount of the delinquent assessment for which said property was sold and all accrued interest and interest to the time of the next call for bonds or warrants issued against such assessment fund at the rate provided thereon, and thereupon shall take and hold said property discharged of such trust:Provided, further, That property deeded to any city or town which shall become a part of the trust being exercised by the said city for the benefit of any local improvement district fund of the said city shall be exempt from taxation for general, state, county and municipal purposes during the period that it is so held."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            It was held, prior to the addition of the last proviso in the above statute in 1933, that property held in trust by a city or town was not exempt from general taxation in the absence of express statutory language.  Spokane County v. Spokane, 169 Wash. 355, 13 P.2d 1084 (1932).  See, also,Seattle v. King County, 3 Wn.2d 26, 99 P.2d 621 (1940).  The subsequently enacted proviso specifically exempts such property from general taxation only after a deed has been issued to the city or town, which, as we have seen, can only be after the period for redemption has expired.

            When § 1, chapter 107, Laws of 1933, was codified in RCW 35.53.010, 35.53.020, the session law language was so changed that the code provisions do not adequately reflect the law as enacted by the legislature.  Until Title 35 RCW is recodified and re‑enacted by the legislature, we must be guided by the session law language.

            We conclude that real property acquired by a city or town by way of  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] foreclosure because of delinquent local improvement assessments, is subject to taxation for general state, county and municipal purposes during the period allowed for redemption.

            We trust the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

JOHN J. O'CONNELL
Attorney General

HENRY W. WAGER
Assistant Attorney General

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