The Washington State Legislature recognizes that it is in the best interest of the state and its citizens to maintain, preserve and conserve adequate open space lands for the enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the state and its citizens. To support the development and preservation of these lands, the legislature created a property tax deferral program designed to help property owners.
Under the Washington State Legislature's Open Space Taxation Act, Clark County offers property owners the ability to apply for tax relief for property that meets specific criteria. In Clark County, the Open Space Taxation act is governed by both the state statute (RCW 84.34 and WAC 458-30) and Clark County Code 3.08 (To locate this code, click the link and select Title 3 REVENUE AND FINANCE in the left hand menu. Then select chapter 3.08 Open Space Taxation.)
Properties that may qualify under this program include those parcels that are :
- 20 acres or greater with certain mineral deposits located on the parcel,
- 10 acres or greater with certain streams or springs located on the parcel,
- 10 acres or greater with certain soil types located on the parcel,
- 10 acres or greater with certain recreational opportunities located on the parcel, and
- Parcels of any size with archaeological or historic sites listed on the local, state, or national registry that are located on the parcel.
Property owners may apply to have their land classified as Open Space Land. Property owners that apply and are accepted into the Open Space Taxation Act program have their lands valued at their current use rather than at their highest and best use for property tax purposes. This designation often results in a lower assessed value and lower taxes.
Complete applications submitted between January 1st and December 31st are reviewed in the year after they were submitted, typically in a public hearing with the Board of County Councilors. If approved, the Assessor's Office will send the applicant a notice of approval to be signed and recorded with the County Auditor. Once the approval is recorded, the assessed value is reduced for the year of the approval and taxes are reduced in the following year. Once an application is approved, the land is subject to a back-tax liability if the use of the land changes after being declared Open Space Land.
To qualify to have your property classified as Open Space Land, you must:
- Have a minimum of 10 contiguous acres in the same ownership, not including any residential home sites,
- Have land that meets one or more of the criteria for participation in the Open Space Taxation Act program, and
- Be compliant with laws and regulations governing the program.
- Complete an application for Classification or Reclassification Open Space Land
- Pay the application fee for the Open Space Taxation Act program ($2,282.00)
Bring your completed and signed application along with the program application fee to:
Clark County Assessor's Office
1300 Franklin Street
Vancouver, WA 98660
Help in Applying
If you prefer, you may contact us with your questions via email at email@example.com. We can also be reached by phone at (360) 397-2391.
Removal from Open Space Classification
Land classified under the program may be removed if:
- The owner submits a written request to withdraw from current use assessment
- The land is sold or transferred to an ownership making it exempt from ad valorem taxation,
- All or a portion of the land is transferred to a new owner and the new owner does not wish to continue the classification; or
- The Assessor determines, after giving the owner written notice and an opportunity to be heard, that the land is no longer complies with the terms under which classification was approved.
Change in Ownership or Title of Classified Land
When classified land is sold or transferred to new ownership, the new owner(s) must determine if they would like the property to remain in the program and accept the potential tax liability associated with land in the Open Space Taxation Act program. In addition, the new owner must:
- Complete the Notice of Continuance Land Classification as Current Use or Forest Land form (all purchasers must sign the form),
- Sign section 6(3) of the Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit form (all grantees must sign).
Upon receipt of the required information, the Assessor’s Office will determine if the property is eligible to continue in the classification.
Reclassifying Open Space Lands to Another Classification
Unlike other Current Use programs, land classified under the Open Space program is not eligible to be reclassified to another Current Use Designation. If you have questions about your options under the Open Space Taxation Act, please contact our office via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (360) 397-2391.