Northwest NEWS

October 18, 1999


Just the facts, not scare tactics

   As the Snohomish County assessor, I feel it is my duty to share some facts about Initiative 695. My comments are not meant to be scare tactics, simply the facts. The statements and opinions given are not, and should not be interpreted as expressions for or against the initiative.

   I have been in the property tax assessment field for 28 years. I feel I have the knowledge and experience to interpret the property tax laws of Washington. Currently, motor vehicles are exempt from paying property tax. One section in Initiative 695 repeals that exemption. When this exemption is repealed. Motor vehicles will become taxable as personal property.

   Washington Assessors and the Property Tax Division of the Washington State Department of Revenue support this analysis. The reason for this interpretation can be found in state law. Initiative 695 repeals the prohibition against listing and assessing motor vehicles for ad valorem taxation (property tax). RCW.84.36.005 stipulates that all property shall be subject to taxation unless otherwise exempted by law. This is not a new tax. Therefore, a public vote would not be required to enact this law.

   As your assessor, I have taken an oath to obey the Constitution and the laws of the State of Washington. If the voters approve I-695, my office will obey the law and assess motor vehicles. This is only one section of I-695, and there are several other sections which will impact you as individuals. Please research I-695 for yourself before you vote on it in November. See how it will affect your job, your business, and your quality of life. Be a knowledgeable voter.

Gail S. Rauch, Snohomish County Assessor