Removal or Transfer Overview

Transfer/Sale of Ownership

A buyer may request to continue classification by signing and recording a Notice of Continuance at the time of transfer.

If the buyer requests to continue and the Assessor's Office determines that the land qualifies for continuance, all buyers must sign a Notice of Continuance before the conveyance is recorded or filed.  Also, the Assessor's Office must sign the Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit before the sale will be processed - this can only be done Monday through Thursday.  An updated Timber Management Plan may be required from the new owners of Designated Forest Land.  New owners also assume all tax liability accrued by the previous owner, including liability related to this classification.

If the buyer does not want to continue in the classification, the seller must have the property removed from the program, before the transfer, by submitting the appropriate Owner's Request to Remove form to the Assessor's Office (Open Space, Farm & Agriculture or Designated Forest Land).  The compenating tax or additional tax, interest and penalty will be due at the time of sale and is the responsibility of the seller.

Additional Tax - Open Space and Farm & Agricultural

In most cases, when property is removed from current use classification additional tax, interest and penalty becomes due.  A complete list of exceptions to additional tax can be found in WAC 458-30-300(5).   

Additional tax equals the difference between the tax paid under the current use classification and the tax that would have been due under the true and fair market value for the current year plus the last seven years, plus interest at 1% per month.  A 20% penalty is also applied in most circumstances.  Note: These programs are designed for long term, if you remove properties form these classifications before 10 years you could end up paying more taxes than you would have, without the exemption, in the removal process.

A 20% penalty is not applied when:

*At the time of withdrawal, the land was classified for at least 10 years and the owner provided a 2-year notice of withdrawal.  For example, if land became classified in 2009, then the owner could submit the 2-year withdrawal notice in 2017 and the land would be withdrawn on January 1, 2019. Additional tax and interest would still become due but the penalty would not be applied. 

*The land is being reclassified into another program.

*The removal meets one of the exceptions in the WAC listed above.

Compensating Tax - Designated Forest Land

In most cases, when property is removed from designated forest land compensating tax becomes due.  A complete list of exceptions to compensating tax can be found in RCW 84.33.140(13). 

Compensating tax is calculated by multiplying the difference between the Assessor's current market value and the current forest land value, times the current tax rate, times the number of years in the program (not to exceed ten).