Frequently Asked Questions - Personal Property

1. What is Taxable Personal Property?

Taxable personal property means all tangible possessions used to conduct business. A chief difference between personal property and real property is mobility. Land and improvements to land are considered real property. Taxable personal property includes machinery and equipment used in agriculture, contracting, logging, manufacturing, and offices. It also includes supplies and materials (paper, pens) that are not held for sale or do not become an ingredient or component (plastic sacks) of an article being produced for sale. Furniture and fixtures in commercial use, leased equipment, certain leasehold improvements, and lessee-owned improvements on public land.


2. What Personal Property is Exempt from Taxes?

Many types of personal property are exempt from taxation. These include livestock, inventories held solely for resale, intangible personal property and personal effects and household items not used for business. Property held for lease to others is not considered part of a businessí inventory and, therefore, is taxable.


3. What is the Head of Family Exemption and Who Qualifies?

Businesses owned by sole proprietors may be eligible to receive a $15,000 exemption on the value of personal property if the owner is the head of a family. To be considered the head of a family, the sole proprietor must meet one of the following criteria: Be married or widowed and residing in the same residence as when married; Receive an old age pension; Be a US citizen over 65 years old and living continuously in Washington for ten years; Have dependent relatives who are unable to take care of or support themselves. A sole proprietor who is a single person, under age 65, without a dependent, and who is not widowed cannot claim this exemption.


4. How Are Personal Property Assessments Processed?

Most personal property assessments are based on information provided by the taxpayer on Personal Property Affidavits provided by the Assessor. The Assessor uses information provided by the taxpayer to determine value, taking into consideration the age, cost, and type of property. When the affidavit is processed and the property valued and entered on the assessment roll, a Personal Property Change of Value Notice is mailed to the taxpayer.


5. When Are Personal Property Affidavits Due?

The affidavits are mailed to established accounts in January each year and must be returned to the Assessor by April 30. New businesses should contact the Assessorís Office to request a reporting form. Call us at (360) 867-2200 or drop by the office at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW.

The law does not allow extensions of the filing date. A tax penalty of 5 percent per month will be applied to affidavits received after April 30. The Assessor may waive the penalty if the late filing is due to reasonable cause. If April 30 falls on a weekend, the deadline is extended to May 1 or May 2. A penalty of 25 percent of the tax due in the following year will be applied for failure to file an affidavit.