The Open Space Taxation Act, enacted in 1970, allows property owners to have their open space, farm and agricultural, and designated forest land valued at their current use rather than their highest and best use of the land. 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.
There are four categories of Open Space land. The four categories are listed below:
Open Space Land - Land retained in its natural state. Land that would enhance, protect or preserve natural areas, i.e. parks, sanctuaries, historic sites, scenic resources, streams, beaches.
Farm and Agricultural - Land primarily devoted to the production of livestock or agricultural commodities for commercial purposes.
Designated Forest Land - Land consisting of 5 or more contiguous acres devoted to the commercial growth and harvest of trees.
Current Use Timber Land - Land consisting of a minimum of five (5) contiguous acres that are devoted primarily to the growing and harvesting of commercial timber.
Each category has its own specific requirements for eligibility in the Open Space program. The calculation for the reduced taxable value and rules for removal from the program are different for each category.
State Laws It is helpful to read the complete laws, Revised Code of Washington (RCW), Chapter 84.33 and Chapter 84.34 and rules, Washington Administrative Code (WAC), Chapter 458-30 to understand requirements of the classifications and the tax liabilities incurred.