Overview and FAQ: Personal Property Appraisal Process
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, construction, logging, manufacturing, and offices. It also includes supplies and materials that are not held for sale or do not become an ingredient or component 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 are considered taxable personal property.
Everyone who owns personal property used in a business must complete a personal property listing by April 30 each year. The listing must include a description of the property, its cost, and the acquisition date. The Assessor uses the listing to value property for taxes payable the following year. Personal property tax rates are the same as for real property.
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, 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. Farmers can apply for a partial exemption on machinery and equipment used exclusively for growing and producing commercial agricultural products.
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 reported assessed value of personal property; this would affect taxes due in the following year. To qualify for this exemption, you must be a sole proprietor AND one of the following:
- A Citizen over the age of 65 with 10 years continuous state residence
- Have dependant familiy members living with you
- Married or a widow or widower
- Receive an old age pension under the laws of Washington State
This exemption must be applied for annually when submitting the Personal Property Listing.
What is the Farm Machinery and Equipment Exemption and who qualifies?
Most farm equipment, machinery, and supplies are subject to personal property tax. Certain machinery and equipment that is owned by a farmer and used exclusively in growing and producing agricultural or aqua cultural products, such as hay, cattle, or oysters, may be exempt from state school levies. The exemption must be applied for annually.
How are Personal Property assessments processed?
Most personal property assessments are based on information provided by the taxpayer on Personal Property Listings 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 listing is processed and the property valued and entered on the assessment roll, a Personal Property Change of Value Notice is mailed to the taxpayer.
How can I get a listing for a new business?
New businesses can request an application and personal property listing via email. Call us at (360) 867-2200 or drop by the office at 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW.
What if my business has multiple locations?
A complete listing of assets should be filed for each location. If a business has locations in Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater, Yelm, and Grand Mound, then the owner would submit 5 listings, one for each location.
When are Personal Property listings due?
The listings are mailed to established accounts in January each year and must be returned to the Assessor by April 30.
A tax penalty of 5 percent per month (up to 25 percent) will be applied to listings received after April 30. 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 a listing.
What if I close my business?
Report the details (including the disposition of property) to our office via email or on the yearly listing. If the equipment is in your possession, continue to file the listing - due every April 30, until it is sold or disposed.
Please do not confuse relocating, selling, walking away from, or reorganizing the business with closing it. You still need to report the equipment. If you do not have the equipment, we need to know what you did with it. Specifically: the date that the business closed and the location of the equipment. If sold: sale date, sale price, new owner's name, new owner's address.
Can existing businesses file online?
Existing businesses are able to access their account online using eFile. Detailed instructions can be found on the eFile website. A confidential User Name and Password will be emailed to you once you have been approved. The approval usually occurs within 1-2 business days.
What is eFile and why is it beneficial?
EFile is a simplified way for businesses to file Personal Property Listings online. Your electronic report will be directly imported into the Assessorís database. EFile minimizes input errors, reduces paper usage, and reduces costs.
What about security?
The site is secure and confidential. A password is assigned to each account so that only business owners or their accountants can work in a secure environment and view information online.
What must be listed?
Business owners (or authorized agent) should list all personal property located in Thurston County as of January 1. This includes assets owned or leased by the business as well as assets the business has borrowed or been loaned for each location.
Each item listed must include the following:
- Description of item
- Year of original acquisition
- Total original cost of item, including freight & installation costs and trade-in allowance
After eFiling, will I be able to view my information online? Will I get a receipt?
Yes, you will be able to view your information. You will also receive a dated notice confirming that your listing has been received. Be sure to print a copy of the notice for your files.
The Assessor's value is way too high - what can I do?
If you feel the Assessorís value is too high, please provide a copy of your Depreciation Schedule, along with a list of your expensed and leased equipment, if any, to the Assessorís Office for review.
When can I appeal my assessment?
Appeals are due by July 1 of the assessment year or within 30 days from the mailing of the Change of Value Notice, whichever is later. The appeal deadline will always be listed on the notice.
Who do I talk to about an appeal?
The first step should be to contact our office, if you are not satisfied with the results that you receive, then you can appeal the decision to the Board of Equalization. If you disagree with our calculation on reported assets, either email or call us at (360) 867-2200.