State law requires assessors to value property at 100% of its true and fair market value in money, according to the highest and best use of the property. All real and personal property is subject to tax unless specifically exempted by law.
Real property is land and any improvements, such as buildings, attached to the land. The assessor values real property using one or more of three professional appraisal methods:
- Market or sales comparison method uses sales to provide estimates of value for similar properties.
- Cost approach considers what it would cost to replace an existing structure with a similar one that serves the same purpose. The cost method is also used in valuing new construction.
- Income method is used primarily to value business property when the property tends to be worth its income-producing potential.
Most residential property is valued by using the market or sales comparison method. An individual sale does not automatically establish the value of a property. The assessor uses multiple sales to establish market value. For information on Washington State Department of Revenues guidelines, visit dor.wa.gov/docs/pubs/prop_tax/homeown.pdf for the Homeowner's Guide to Property Tax.
Personal property's primary characteristic is its mobility. It includes machinery, equipment and furniture associated with commercial, industrial or agricultural enterprises. Business inventories are exempt from property tax.
Everyone who uses personal property in a business must complete a personal property affidavit by April 30 each year. The affidavit must list the taxable property by category, as well as its cost and acquisition date. The assessor uses the affidavit to value personal property for taxes due the following year. Personal property tax rates are the same as for real property.
New businesses are required to complete a Personal Property Itemized Listing form. For a blank form, click here.
Property Value Change
Beginning with the 2012 tax year, Lewis County became an annual reval County. Each year, 1/6th of the County will be physically inspected and revalued. The other 5/6th's of the County will be statistically updated. After determining the value, the assessor mails property owners a "Change of Value Notice" if your value changes from the prior year. The notice states the new and the old values. By comparing the two values, property owners can tell whether their property has increased or decreased in value. The notice also breaks down the value between land and improvements.
Lewis County’s annual revaluation cycles are scheduled by school district, not by city, town or geographical area. The schedule below indicates the year in which the property in each school district will be physically inspected and appraised. All other property in the county will be statistically appraised that year.
Using the chart below, for example, all property in the Adna, Boistfort, Evaline, Napavine, and the Pe Ell School Districts will be physically inspected in 2013 which provided a value for calculating taxes due in 2014.
Click here to access individual revaluation area maps. Valuation notices are NOT tax bills! An increase in value does not mean that next year's property taxes will increase at a proportionate rate.
Appeal of Assessed Value
You may contact the assessor's office to review your valuation any time you have a question about your property value. Property owners can often settle disagreements at this level without filing a formal appeal. If you are not satisfied, you may file a written appeal with the County Board of Equalization.
The completed petition must be filed by July 1 of the assessment year or within 30 days of the date the change of value notice was mailed, whichever date is later. Appeal forms are available from the Clerk of the Board of Equalization located in the Lewis County Commissioner's office.
For information on Washington State Department of Revenues guidelines, visit dor.wa.gov/docs/pubs/prop_tax/homeown.pdf for theHomeowner's Guide to Property Tax.