Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1980 NO. 1 >

(1) Except where prohibited by RCW 42.17.260(5), inspection and copying of an assessor's property tax assessment roll and supporting materials must be allowed unless the specific exemptions covering taxpayer information, as set forth in RCW 42.17.310(1)(c) and RCW 84.40.020, are applicable in a given case.  (2) Real property assessment rolls prepared pursuant to RCW 84.40.020 and 84.40.160 are lists of taxable property and not individuals and, therefore, their disclosure is not prohibited by RCW 42.17.260(5) even for a commercial purpose; whether this is also true of personal property assessment rolls will depend upon their actual form.

AGO 1986 NO. 3 >

In an appeal to the State Board of Tax Appeals from a county board of equalization, the presumption of correctness established by RCW 84.40.0301 in valuation of property for taxation applies to the determination of the assessor, not that of the board of equalization.

AGO 1965 NO. 4 >

If an assessor has good reason to believe that there may be an error in the tax rolls which would result in certain property being assessed at other than its true and fair value, he has the authority and a duty to determine whether an error does exist, and if so, to take whatever corrective measures that are necessary.

AGO 1974 NO. 6 >

(1) The substantive provisions of §§ 1 through 7 of chapter 40, Laws of 1973, 2nd Ex. Sess., redefining the standards to be applied in determining the eligibility of certain property for an exemption from property taxation, apply to assessments made in 1973 for taxes due and payable in 1974. (2) The procedural requirements of §§ 9 through 19 of chapter 40, Laws of 1973, 2nd Ex. Sess., under which the function of determining the eligibility of property for a tax exemption is, henceforth, to be performed by the state department of revenue instead of the various county assessors and boards of equalization, do not apply in the case of assessments made in 1973 for taxes due and payable in 1974. (3) The remedies available under existing law for taxpayers who, during 1974, received tax statements covering properties which qualify for an exemption under §§ 1 through 7, chapter 40, Laws of 1973, 2nd Ex. Sess., include a request for cancellation of the assessment as provided for in RCW 84.56.400, a suit for a refund pursuant to chapter 84.68 RCW, or an injunction under RCW 84.68.010 (2). (4) The provisions of § 21, chapter 40, Laws of 1973, 2nd Ex. Sess., making a general fund appropriation to the department of revenue to administer the provisions of this new property tax exemption law, do not authorize that department to reimburse the counties for their costs incurred in determining property tax exemptions during the 1973 assessment year.

AGO 1991 NO. 11 >

1.  Chapter 84.34 RCW provides for current use valuation for the purpose of property tax assessments of land classified as agricultural, open space, or timber land.  RCW 84.34.108 sets out the consequences when classified land is transferred.  The term "transfer" in RCW 84.34.108 includes a transfer of ownership by inheritance.   2.  Chapter 84.33 RCW creates a special system of taxation for property which is classified or designated as forest land.  R CW 84.33.120 and RCW 84.33.140 set out the consequences when forest land is transferred.  The term "transfer" in RCW 84.33.120 and 84.33.140 includes a transfer of ownership by inheritance.

AGLO 1977 NO. 21 >

(1) In the event that a county assessor has utilized one or more leases of comparable lands to establish the "net cash rental" for certain farm and agricultural land under RCW 84.34.065, those leases (or copies), if retained in his custody, constitute "public records" under the public disclosure law (chapter 42.17 RCW); accordingly, the owner of such land will be governed by the provisions of that law in seeking to require the assessor to permit inspection of the contents of those documents.

(2) If, however a petition for review under chapter 84.48 RCW has been filed, such a landowner may utilize the provisions of RCW 84.48.150 to obtain the same material or information from the assessor.

AGLO 1979 NO. 24 >

Neither Article VII, § 10 of the Washington Constitution nor such implementing legislation as is contained in RCW 84.36.381 et seq., qualify an individual for a property tax exemption with respect to a ". . . residence occupied by a share owner under a cooperative housing association agreement [which] is not owned by the association, but is leased by the association from a third party pursuant to a long term lease."

AGO 1971 NO. 35 >

The provisions of § 17, chapter 288, Laws of 1971, 1st Ex. Sess., establishing certain qualifications to be met by persons having the responsibility of valuing real property for purposes of taxation, although applicable to the assistants or deputies to a county assessor, do not apply to the county assessor himself regardless of whether he holds office by election or by appointment to fill a vacancy.

AGO 1963 NO. 53 >

If a private forestry firm appraises, pursuant to a contract, the forestry land and timber in a county for tax assessment purposes, the cost must be paid from the assessor's budget and cannot be paid by the schools and junior taxing district on some theory of anticipated benefit.

AGO 1951 NO. 83 >

A contemplated emergency order appropriating $22,000 for an aerial survey for the county assessor after the county commissioner had considered a larger item for the same purpose and stricken it in the regular budget would not constitute an emergency.