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Open Space Taxation

Open Space Taxation

Open Space Taxation History

Information and Instructions when applying for Current Use Assessment on the basis of Current Use under the "Open Space Law " in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 84.34 and Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapter 448-30.

The Open Space Taxation Act, enacted in 1970, allows property owners to have their open space, farm and agricultural, and timberlands valued at their current use rather than their highest and best use. The Act states that it is in the best interest of the State to maintain, preserve, conserve, and otherwise continue in existence adequate open space lands for the production of food, fiber, and forest crops and to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the State and its citizens.

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What Lands Qualify For Classification          

The law provides three classifications:

  1. Open Space Land
  2. Farm and Agricultural Land
  3. Timber land

Open Space land is defined as either:

(1) Any land area zoned for open space by a comprehensive land use plan adopted by a city or county legislative authority, or

(2) Any land area in which the preservation in its present use would:

(a) Conserve and enhance natural or scenic resources
(b) Protect streams or water supply
(c) Promote conservation of soils, wetlands, beaches or tidal marshes
(d) Enhance the value to the public of abutting or neighboring parks, forest, wildlife preserves, nature reservations or sanctuaries or other open space
(e) Enhance recreation opportunities
(f) Preserve historic sites
(g) Preserve visual quality along highway, road, and street corridor or scenic vistas; or
(h) Retain in its natural state tracts of land not less than one acre situated in an urban area and open public use on such conditions as may be reasonably required by the granting authority.                                                                    

(3) Or, any land meeting the definition of "farm and agricultural conservation land" which means either:

(a) Land previously classified under farm and agriculture classification that no longer meets the criteria and is reclassified under open space land, or
(b) "Traditional farmland", not classified, that has not been irrevocably devoted to a use inconsistent with agricultural uses, and that has a high potential for returning to commercial agriculture.

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Farm and Agricultural land is defined as either:

(1) Any parcel of land that is twenty or more acres or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total twenty or more acres:

(a) Devoted primarily to the production of livestock or agriculture commodities for commercial purposes
(b) Enrolled in a cropland retirement program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture     

(2) Any parcel of land that is five acres or more but less than twenty acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses equivalent to:

(a) One hundred dollars or more per acre per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification made prior to January 1, 1993, and
(b) On or after January 1, 1993, two hundred dollars or more per acre per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification

(3) Any parcel of land of less than five acres devoted primarily to agricultural useswhich has produced a gross income of:

(a) One thousand dollars or more per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application made prior to January 1, 1993, and
(b) On or after January 1, 1993, fifteen hundred dollars or more per year for three of the five calendar years preceding the date of application for classification.                

(4) "Farm and agricultural land" also includes:

(a) Incidental uses compatible with agricultural purposes provided such use does not exceed twenty percent of the classified land;
(b) Land on which appurtenances necessary for production, preparation, or sale of agricultural products exist in conjunction with the lands producing such products;
(c) Any noncontiguous parcel one to five acres, that is an integral part of the farming operations.
(d) Land on which housing for employees and principal place of residence of the farm operation or owner is sited provided the use of the housing or residence is integral to the use of the classified land for agricultural purposes and provided that the classified parcel is twenty or more acres.

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Timber Land means any parcel of land that is five or more acres or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total five or more acres which is or are devoted primarily to the growth and harvest of forest crops for commercial purposes.      

 

For additional information:

State of Washington
Department of Revenue
PO Box 47471
Olympia, Washington 98504-7471
Telephone: (360) 570-5900
http://dor.wa.gov/Docs/Pubs/Prop_Tax/OpenSpace.pdf