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AGO 1956 No. 327 - October 11, 1956
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

TAXATION ‑- MINES AND MINES AND MINING ‑- UNPATENTED MINING CLAIMS

Unpatented mining claims are assessable as personal property and taxable to the holder on his possessory rights.

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                                                                October 11, 1956

Honorable Jay Roy Jones
Prosecuting Attorney
Pend Oreille County
Newport, Washington                                                                                           Cite as:  AGO 55-57 No. 327

Dear Sir:

            You have requested an opinion of this office as to whether unpatented mining claims should be assessed for purposes of taxation as real or personal property.

            We conclude that unpatented mining claims are assessable as personal property and taxable to the holder on his possessory rights.

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            There appears to be no statute which is of much assistance in answering your question.  However, RCW 84.40.010 (1955 Supp.) reads in part as follows:

            "All property now existing, or that is hereafter created or brought into this state, shall be subject to assessment and taxation for state, county, and other taxing district purposes, . . . excepting such as is exempted from taxation by law."

            The court, in the case ofAmerican Smelting and Refining Company v. Whatcom County, 13 Wn. (2d) 295, decided that possessory rights in unpatented mining claims held under location notices were property and subject to ad valorem taxation under the constitution and laws of this state,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] and inferred that they were personal property.  In addition, an opinion of this office dated September 24, 1952, No. 51-53-408 [[Opinion No. 51-53-408 to Norman Ericson, Prosecuting Attorney, Pend Orielle County]], considered the problem in order to determine whether the sale of such interests would be subject to the real estate excise tax.  After an analysis of the law on the subject it was concluded that they should be considered personal property.

            We are, therefore, of the opinion that unpatented mining claims should be assessed as personal property and taxed upon the holder's right of possession.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General


HENRY W. WAGER
Assistant Attorney General

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