How my business property is valued

Commercial property

State law requires that county assessors appraise all property at 100 percent of its true and fair market value in money, according to the highest and best use of the property. This standard applies to residential as well as commercial property. While comparable sales are used primarily to determine market value of residential property, sales in combination with the income and cost approach is used by county assessors to value commercial property. WAC 458-07-030

Industrial property

State law requires that county assessors appraise all property at 100 percent of its true and fair market value in money, according to the highest and best use of the property. This standard applies to residential as well as industrial property. Industrial property has the unique feature where machinery and equipment may comprise a significant amount of market value to the whole property. Machinery and equipment is typically considered “real property” when affixed to the real property. There may be situations however when machinery and equipment are considered personal property. Whether machinery and equipment is classed as real or personal property the assessment standard is still “market value” and the tax rates applicable are the same regardless of being classed real or personal property. Many times the machinery and equipment is valued using a trending guide such as the Industrial Valuation Tables published by the Department of Revenue.

Where can I find the Industrial Valuation Table?

The Industrial Valuation Tables are available on our web site.

Personal property

The primary characteristic of personal property is its mobility. It can include machinery, equipment, supplies, and furniture. Property tax applies to the personal property used when conducting business, farming, or to other personal property not exempted by law. Household goods and personal effects are exempt. See our Personal Property Tax brochure for more information.

How is personal property valued?

The county assessor values the property at 100 percent of its current market value. Market, or true and fair value, is the amount that a willing and unobligated buyer will pay a willing and unobligated seller.

Everyone who uses personal property in a business or has taxable personal property must complete a personal property tax listing form. This listing must be filed with your county assessor’s office by April 30 of each year. The assessor uses the listing to value your personal property for taxes due the following year. Contact your local assessor to obtain a current listing form for personal property. If you would like to file electronically, contact your local assessor for instructions. For detailed information about personal property tax, see our Personal Property Tax (pdf) brochure.

What is the basis for my personal property assessment?

The assessment of personal property is based on the market value to the current owner or user of that property. Personal property is assessed at what is known as the “retail trade level” – which is the value it has to the current owner after it is installed and in use. The “retail trade level” is different than the “wholesale trade level” where dealers typically buy personal property at a discounted price for resale and not for use. Delivery and installation costs are considered to be a component of the assessed value but may not always be part of the selling price.

Where can I find the Personal Property Valuation Guidelines?

The Personal Property Valuation Guidelines are available on our web site.

Interstate utility property

What is an intercounty utility company and how are they assessed for property taxes?

An intercounty utility company is defined in Washington statute as an electric, gas, telephone, wireless telephone, railroad, or airline company that operates across either a county or Washington State border. The laws defining these companies can be found under RCW 84.12.200 and WAC 458-50-020. Intercounty or interstate companies have physical assets located and operate in more than one county or more than one state. Private railcars are also considered to be intercounty or interstate utility companies, but are defined under a different statute (RCW 84.16.010).

Where do I find the intercounty or interstate annual report?

Any company meeting these definitions must file an annual report with the Department of Revenue for property assessment. The Utility Company Annual Report is available on our website.

When will the intercounty or interstate utility company know their assessed value?

The Department is required to complete property tax assessments on interstate and intercounty utilities and notify the taxpayer on or before June 30 of each year.

Where do I find utility map information?

Use our Utilities Apportionment Lookup to find utility valuations for a specific address or location.