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PDFWAC 458-16-110

Initial application and renewal declaration.

(1) Introduction. This rule explains the requirements in RCW 84.36.815 that property owners must follow to apply for and renew all real and personal property exemptions or leasehold excise tax exemptions under chapter 84.36 RCW. It also explains the late filing penalty that is due whenever an application or renewal declaration is received after the filing deadline.
(2) Application required. All foreign national governments; cemeteries; nongovernmental nonprofit corporations, organizations, or associations; soil and water conservation districts; hospitals established under chapter 36.62 RCW; and public hospital districts established under chapter 70.44 RCW, seeking a property tax exemption or a leasehold excise tax exemption under chapter 84.36 RCW must submit an application for exemption with supporting documentation to the department of revenue (department). Unless otherwise exempted by law, no real or personal property or leasehold interest is exempt from taxation until an application is submitted and an exemption is granted.
(3) Where to obtain initial application and renewal declaration forms. An initial application for exemption may be obtained from any county assessor's office or on the department's website at dor.wa.gov. Renewal declaration forms are provided by the department to all entities receiving a property tax or leasehold excise tax exemption, except for certain cemeteries, military housing providers and tribal governments. Refer to subsection (8) of this rule for additional information on renewal declarations.
(4) Initial application. Generally, initial applications for exemption must be filed with the department on or before March 31st to exempt the property from taxes due in the following year. However, an initial application may be filed after March 31st if the property is acquired or converted to an exempt use after that date, if the property may qualify for an exemption under chapter 84.36 RCW. For property acquired or converted after March 31st, the initial application must be submitted within sixty days of acquisition or conversion to an exempt use. If an initial application is not received within this sixty day period, the late filing penalty described in subsection (12) of this rule is imposed.
The following requirements apply to all initial applications:
(a) The application must be made on a form prescribed by the department and signed by the applicant or the applicant's authorized agent;
(b) One application can be submitted for all real property that is contiguous and part of a homogeneous unit. If exemption is sought for multiple parcels of real property, which are not contiguous or not part of a homogeneous unit, a separate application for each parcel must be submitted. However, multiple applications are not required for church property with a noncontiguous parsonage or convent.
(i) "Contiguous property" means real property adjoining other real property, all of which is under the control of a single applicant even though the properties may be separated by public roads, railroads, rights of way, or waterways.
(ii) "Homogeneous unit" means the property is controlled by a single applicant and the operation and use of the property is integrated with and directly related to the exempt activity of the applicant.
(5) Documentation required for initial application. Unless the following information was previously submitted to the department and is still current, the applicant must submit the following in addition to the initial application:
(a) A legal description of all real property, listing the county tax parcel number;
(b) A copy of the deed for real property owned by the applicant or a copy of the lease agreement if the property is being leased. If leased, the applicant must also indicate how the property is being used, and the monthly amount of maintenance and operation costs related to rented or loaned property if a nonprofit entity is claiming an exemption for property leased to another party;
(c) A copy of the bylaws of the nonprofit entity, and articles of incorporation or association, constitution, or other establishing documents, as well as all current amendments to these documents showing nonprofit status, if requested by the department;
(d) A copy of any current letter issued by the Internal Revenue Service that exempts the applicant from federal income taxes; and
(e) An accurate map identifying by dimension the use or proposed use of all real property that shows buildings, building sites, parking areas, landscaping, vacant areas, and if requested by the department, floor plans of the buildings. The map will be used to determine whether the property is entitled to a total or partial exemption based upon the use of the total area.
(6) Initial application review and notice of determination. Upon receipt of an initial application for exemption, the department will review the application and all supporting documentation. Additional information may be requested by the department about the ownership and use of the property to determine if the exemption should be granted. An application for exemption is not considered complete until all required and requested information is received by the department.
(a) Physical inspection. The department may physically inspect the property as part of the application review process.
(b) Deadline. If a complete application is received by March 31st of the assessment year, the department will issue a determination about the application by August 1st of that same year. If a complete application is not received by March 31st, the determination will be made within thirty days of the date the complete application is received by the department or by August 1st, whichever is later.
(c) Notice to applicant. The department will issue a written determination about the exemption application to the applicant. An application may be approved or denied, in whole or in part. If the application is denied for any portion of the property covered by the application, the department must clearly explain its reason for denial in its written determination.
(d) Notice to assessor. Once the department makes its determination about the application for exemption, it will notify the assessor of the county in which the property is located regarding the determination. The assessor will then take appropriate action so the department's determination is reflected on the county's assessment roll.
(7) Effective date of exemption. If an initial application is approved, the property is exempt from property taxes due the year immediately following the year the application for exemption is submitted.
For example, if an application for exemption is submitted to the department in 2020 and the application is approved for assessment year 2020, the property will be exempt from taxes due in 2021.
Retroactive initial applications for exemption for previous years are accepted, up to a maximum of three years from the date taxes were due on the property, if the applicant provides the department with acceptable proof that the property qualified for exemption during the pertinent assessment years and pays the late filing penalties described in subsection (12) of this rule.
(8) Renewal declarations. The renewal declaration is a form provided by the department and may be submitted electronically.
(a) Annual renewal declaration. Except as provided in (b) and (c) of this subsection, any entity receiving an exemption must annually submit a renewal declaration certifying that the use and exempt status of the real and personal property has not changed.
(b) Other renewal declarations. Nonprofits receiving an exemption under RCW 84.36.560 must file a renewal declaration on or before March 31st of every third year following initial qualification for the exemption. Except for this renewal requirement, all other requirements in this rule apply to this exemption. Refer to WAC 458-16-560 Housing for qualifying households, for additional information about this exemption.
(c) No renewal declaration. Nonprofit cemeteries receiving an exemption under RCW 84.36.020 and nonprofit low-income housing developers receiving an exemption under RCW 84.36.049, are not required to file a renewal declaration. See subsection (11) of this rule for additional information on renewal declarations for cemeteries.
(9) Documentation required for renewal declaration. Unless otherwise indicated in subsection (8) of this rule, the following requirements apply to all renewal declarations:
(a) On or before January 1st of each year, the department will send information about the renewal declaration to the entity receiving an exemption for the property. If an entity changes its mailing or contact information at any time during the year, it must notify the department within sixty days about the change.
(b) The renewal declaration, signed by the exempt entity or the exempt entity's authorized agent, must be submitted to the department no later than March 31st of each year.
(i) The renewal declaration must include information about any change of use of the exempt property and a statement certifying the truth and accuracy of the information listed.
(ii) The renewal declaration is due on or before March 31st of each year even if the department fails to send the declaration to the exempt entity. A renewal declaration form may be requested from the department to renew the exemption or the exempt entity may use the department's online system to submit the declaration.
(c) If the renewal declaration and renewal fee are not received by March 31st, the department will send a second notice to the exempt entity. If the exempt entity fails to respond to the second notice, the department will remove the exemption from the property and notify the assessor of the county in which the property is located that the exemption has been canceled.
(d) Real property, which was previously exempt from taxation, is assessed and taxed as provided in RCW 84.40.350 through 84.40.390 when it loses its exempt status.
(i) Property that no longer retains its exempt status is subject to a pro rata portion of the taxes allocable to the remaining portion of the year after the date the property lost its exempt status.
(ii) The assessor lists and assesses the property with reference to its true and fair value on the date the property lost its exempt status.
(iii) RCW 84.40.380 provides the dates that taxes are payable when property loses its exempt status. Taxes due and payable under RCW 84.40.350 through 84.40.390 constitute a lien on the property that attaches on the date the property loses its exempt status.
(10) Failure to submit a renewal declaration. When property loses its exempt status because the renewal declaration was not submitted and the owner wishes to reapply for the property tax exemption:
(a) If the owner reapplies within the same assessment year the exemption was removed, the owner must submit the renewal declaration and pay the required late filing penalties; or
(b) If the owner reapplies after the assessment year the exemption was removed, the owner must submit an initial application and pay the required late filing penalties.
(11) Initial application and renewal declaration procedures for cemeteries. There are several types of cemeteries. The initial application for exemption and renewal declaration procedures are specific as to the type of cemetery at issue.
(a) The assessor will consider the following types of cemeteries exempt from property tax, and no initial application or renewal declaration is required for:
(i) Cemeteries owned, controlled, operated, and maintained by a cemetery district authorized by RCW 68.52.090; or
(ii) Indian cemeteries, which are considered to be held by the tribe or held in trust for the tribe by the United States.
(b) An initial application is submitted to the department, but no renewal declaration is required, for:
(i) Family cemeteries;
(ii) Historical cemeteries;
(iii) Community cemeteries; and
(iv) Cemeteries belonging to nonprofit organizations, associations, or corporations.
(c) An initial application is submitted to the department, and a renewal declaration is required annually by all for-profit cemeteries seeking a property tax exemption.
(12) Late filing penalty. When an initial application or renewal declaration is submitted after the due date, a late filing penalty of ten dollars is due for every month, or portion of the month. This penalty is calculated from the date the initial application or renewal declaration was due until the postmark date shown on the application or declaration or the date the application or declaration is received by the department. RCW 84.36.825.
(13) Refund of filing penalty. No late filing penalty is refunded after a determination on the application is issued by the department. However, the late filing penalty will be refunded under the following circumstances:
(a) A duplicate application or renewal declaration for the same property is submitted during the same calendar year;
(b) An application or renewal declaration is received by the department and the department has no authority to grant the exemption requested; or
(c) A written request to withdraw the application is received before the department issues a determination. The withdrawal request must be submitted by the owner or the owner's authorized agent.
(14) Appeals. Any applicant that receives a negative determination from the department on either an initial application or a renewal declaration may appeal this determination to the state board of tax appeals (BTA). Similarly, any assessor who disagrees with the department's determination may appeal the determination to the BTA. See WAC 458-16-120 Appeals, for specific information about the appeal process.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 84.36.865. WSR 21-01-063, § 458-16-110, filed 12/9/20, effective 1/9/21. Statutory Authority: RCW 84.08.010, 84.08.070, and 84.36.865. WSR 10-23-060, § 458-16-110, filed 11/12/10, effective 12/13/10. Statutory Authority: RCW 84.36.865, 84.36.040, 84.36.042, 84.36.045, 84.36.046, 84.36.050, 84.36.385, 84.36.560, 84.36.570, 84.36.800, 84.36.805, 84.36.810, 84.36.815, 84.36.820, 84.36.825, 84.36.830, 84.36.833, 84.36.840, 84.36.850, and 84.40.350 through 84.40.390. WSR 02-02-009, § 458-16-110, filed 12/20/01, effective 1/20/02. Statutory Authority: RCW 84.36.865, 84.36.037, 84.36.805, 84.36.815, 84.36.825 and 84.36.840. WSR 98-18-006, § 458-16-110, filed 8/20/98, effective 9/20/98. Statutory Authority: RCW 84.08.010, 84.08.070 and chapter 84.36 RCW. WSR 94-07-008, § 458-16-110, filed 3/3/94, effective 4/3/94. Statutory Authority: RCW 84.36.865. WSR 85-05-025 (Order PT 85-1), § 458-16-110, filed 2/15/85; WSR 81-05-017 (Order PT 81-7), § 458-16-110, filed 2/11/81; Order PT 77-2, § 458-16-110, filed 5/23/77; Order PT 76-2, § 458-16-110, filed 4/7/76. Formerly WAC 458-12-146.]
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