Back to Whatcom County home page Whatcom County | Departments | Contacts |  Help |  Search
 Assessorheader image
  Assessor  | Tax Guides  | Property Search

   
Tax Guides

Appealing Your Property Tax

Homeowner's Guide to Property Taxes

Open Space Taxation

Annual Tax Book

Washington Tax Structure

 

 
Open Space Taxation

Timberland Classification Requires Forest Management Plan

Applications for current use timber land classification are made to the county legislative authority. A timber management plan is filed at the time of application or when a sale or transfer of timber land occurs and a notice of continuance is signed.

Classification shall be acted upon after public hearing in a similar manner to open space land classification within six months following the date the application is received.

Granting or denial of an application is a legislative determination and shall be receivable only for arbitrary and capricious action. The granting authority may not require the granting of casements for timber land.

The application form requires information about a forest management plan, restocking, fire protection, insect and disease control, weed control, and any other summary of experience and activity that supports the growth and harvest of forest crops for commercial purpose.

Determination of Value

The assessor is required to maintain two values for each parcel that is classified. The first is the value that would be placed on the land if it was not classified. This is commonly referred to as the "fair market value." The second is the current use land value based on its present use as classified by the granting authority. The process for determining the value of open space lands is spelled out in statute. The assessor shall consider only the use to which such property is currently applied and shall not consider potential uses of such property.

  1. Open space land located within a county that has established a public benefit rating system will be valued according to the criteria of the rating system. In absence of a rating system, the valuation will be no less than that for farm and agricultural land.
  2. In determining the current use value of farm and agricultural land the assessor shall consider the earning or productive capacity of comparable lands from crops grown most typically in the area averaged over not less than five years. This earning or productive capacity shall be the "net cash rental" and shall be capitalized by a "rate of interest" charged on long term loans secured by a mortgage on farm or agricultural land plus a component for property taxes.
  3. Timber land is valued according to the schedule prepared by the Department of Revenue for the Timber Tax law, Chapter 84.33 RCW.