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Bob Ferguson

AGO 1953 No. 144 - Oct 5 1953
Attorney General Don Eastvold


Where a town duly annexes a contiguous area but the taxing officials are not notified of the boundary changes and the taxes are levied and collected as though the annexed area is outside the municipal limits:

(1) The county must reimburse the town in the amount of the county road taxes which were erroneously levied and collected, but 

(2) A supplemental levy may not be made to recover the taxes which should have been derived from the municipal tax levy which was omitted. 

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                                                                 October 5, 1953 

Honorable Murray E. Taggart
Prosecuting Attorney
Walla Walla County
Denny Building
Walla Walla, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 144


Dear Sir: 

            We have your letter of September 1, 1953, in which you ask for an opinion with respect to the following problem: A town duly annexed an adjacent area on June 25, 1951.  There is no question as to the validity of the annexation proceedings.  Copies of the adopting ordinance were given to the county auditor.  No copies were transmitted to other county officials.  With respect to the annexed area the 15 mill tax for municipal purposes was not levied, and the 5 mill county road tax was levied and collected by the county.  Under these facts you inquire: 

            (1) Can Walla Walla County reimburse the town for the 5 mill road tax which has been collected? 

            (2) May a supplemental levy be made to collect the tax not had? 

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            In our opinion the county must reimburse the town, but a supplemental levy may not be made. 


            We believe that your first question is specifically answered by RCW 35.13.270.  That section provides as follows: 

            "Whenever any territory is annexed to a city which is part of a road district of the county and road district taxes have been levied but not collected on any property within the annexed territory the same shall when collected by the county treasurer be paid to the city and by the city placed in the city street fund." 

            RCW 84.08.160 provides for taxing district boundary changes as follows: 

            "For the purposes of property taxation and the levy of property taxes the boundaries of counties, cities and all other taxing districts shall be the established official boundaries of such districts existing on the first day of March of the year in which the levy is made, and no such levy shall be made for any taxing district whose boundaries were not duly established on the first day of March of such year.  In any case where any instrument setting forth the official boundaries of any newly established taxing district, or setting forth any change in such boundaries, is required by law to be filed in the office of the county auditor or other county official, said instrument shall be filed in triplicate.  The officer with whom such instrument is filed shall transmit two copies to the county assessor." 

            The boundaries of the municipal taxing district were enlarged as of June, 1951.  Thus, the taxes in question are those levied in 1952 and payable in 1953.  Article VII, section 1, Amendment 14 of the Washington Constitution provides in part: 

            "* * * All taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of property within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax.  * * *" 

             [[Orig. Op. Page 3]]

            There is no indication that the property was not properly assessed.  There was simply a failure to notify the county taxing officials that the boundaries of the municipal taxing district had been changed.  The quoted provision of the State Constitution is not self-executing; it must be considered together with Art. VII, section 5, which provides: 

            "No tax shall be levied except in pursuance of law." 

            An examination of the property tax statutes reveals no statutory authority to make a supplemental levy under these facts.  RCW 84.24.080 provides for a relevy, but this remedy appears to be restricted to situations in which a final judgment has been entered adjudging a tax to be void. 

            It is our conclusion that the county must reimburse the town for the 5 mill county road tax which has been collected, but that in the absence of specific statutory authority a supplemental levy may not be made. 

Very truly yours, 

Attorney General 

Assistant Attorney General