Land owners who wish current use assessment for property tax purposes on lands eligible for classification under the open space law or designated or classified forest lands, must submit an application to the Lewis County Assessor's Office by December 31st.
Providing that acreage is being used as originally intended, valuation of land for tax purposes under the Open Space Act is determined on the basis of "current use” rather than "highest and best use.” Under circumstances where land use is changed or withdrawn, the land becomes liable for tax roll-back penalties or compensating tax. Accordingly, some of the classified land area may be withdrawn as long as remaining acreage meets the original requirements.
The Open Space Act encompasses three categories.
- First, any agricultural lands approved for classification must be used for livestock or agricultural production. Farms with less than 20 acres are subject to minimum earnings in order to qualify.
- Second, forestland owners with parcels of five or more acres dedicated to growing commercial timber may be designated under the Timber Tax Act, if forest crops are grown and harvested.
- A third category of Open Space land exists for lands that are preserved in their natural state. More specifically, current use of this land must conserve and enhance natural or scenic resources; protect streams or water supplies; promote conservation of soils, wetlands, beaches or tidal marshes; or preserve archaeological and historic sites.
Property owners may direct inquiries concerning Open Space or Classified or Designated Forest designation to 360-740-1392. Application processing fees for Open Space programs must be submitted with the application and are not refundable should classification be denied.
Fees are as follows, as of 1/1/2017-
For Designated Forestland, Open Space Farm and Agriculture Lands, and Open Space Lands:
- $350.00 base application fee - per parcel
- + Any recording fees charged by the Auditor's Office