Local News

Deadline approaches for open space tax reductions

tax deadline The King County Office of Open Space is reminding land owners that applicatioins for consideration for a 1997 property tax reduction under King County's 1997 Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS) are due Dec. 31, 1995.
   PBRS is an open space property tax reduction program. The Public Benefit Rating System has a point system based on high natural resource habitat values and/or public access and benefit.
   Qualifying for habitat values include additional protection of wetlands, streams and native plants, and certain wildlife species. For example, points are assigned for bird habitat, woodpeckers, or for a buffer on a salmon spawning stream. The initial term of the agreement is 10 years.
   While it is possible to pull out of the program with two years' notice, back taxes, interest, and a 20 percent penalty would be assessed for up to the seven previous years. After the initial 10-year period, the 20 percent penalty is dropped.
   According to county officials, these penalties for leaving the program are intended to discourage land-banking, which, in other states, has resulted in developers placing vacant land in a tax reduction program, achieving a substantial property tax reduction, then developing and marketing the property without penalty.
   The Public Benefit Rating System is a voluntary program. The property owner, based on the resource value of the property, decides how much or how little area to place in the program.
   Qualified applications go through a hearing process which can lead to approval by the King County Council.
   The reduction is represented as a percentage reduction of the assessed land value of the portion of the property entering the program.
   Applications received by Dec. 31, 1995 will be considered for approved tax reductions beginning in 1997. Property owners may withdraw their applications at any time prior to approval.
   If you have any questions, call Connie Walton or Lise Ward at 296-7800.