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Special Valuation:  A Local Tax Incentive Program that Applies to Historic Buildings

Special Valuation: “… is a revision of the assessed value of a historic property which subtracts, for up to 10 years, rehabilitation costs as are approved by a local review board."

During its 1985 session, the Washington State Legislature determined that as the state approached its centennial year, the preservation of a lasting legacy of historic resources was an important goal.  In order to reach this goal, the Legislature passed a law which allows a "special valuation" for certain historic properties within the state. 

The primary benefit of the law is that during the 10-year special valuation period, property taxes do not reflect substantial improvements made to the property.

Prior to the passage of this law, owners restoring historic buildings were subject to increased property taxes once the improvements were made.  This had the effect of discouraging some owners from rehabilitating their historically significant structures.  The Legislature decided that restoration of these properties would be encouraged if tax relief were available.  Property tax relief was selected as a tool which could provide the financial incentives necessary to promote rehabilitation of eligible historic properties. 

How the Application Process Works


Before beginning work, contact historic staff at Thurston County (360) 867-2117 for more information and to arrange preliminary review of renovation plans. (This is not mandatory, but is desirable if you want to be assured the proposed work will meet the tax program standards.) Submit application to the Assessor no later than 24 months after beginning date of the rehabilitation work.


The Assessor will review your application for completeness and verify the legal owner, legal description, etc. The Assessor will submit the application to local review board within 10 working days.

Local Review Board ( Thurston County Historic Commission):

The Thurston County Historic Commission will review the application and attachments. The commission will approve or deny the application no later than December 31st of the application year. If the application is approved, the commission will notify the applicant, Assessor, and State Advisory Council within 10 days. The commission will execute the agreement with the applicant and return the application to the  Assessor.


The Assessor will file the application, agreement and certification statement (if applicable) with the county recording authority. The Assessor will also determine special valuation and enter in tax roles separately from the normal assessed value.

Forms and additional information about this program can be accessed with the links below.

Contact Us

Sonja Cady, Land Use Clerk. Phone: 360-867-2117. Fax: 360-754-2939. TTY/TDD call 711 or 1-800-833-6388  Email: sonja.cady@co.thurston.wa.us.  Address: Thurston County Historic Commission, 2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Building One, Second Floor, Olympia, WA 98502.


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