Open Space/Designated Forest Taxation

Open Space Taxation History
Information and Instructions when applying for Current Use Assessment on the basis of Current Use under the "Open Space Law " in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 84.34 and Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapter 458-30.

The Open Space Taxation Act, enacted in 1970, allows property owners to have their open space, farm and agricultural, and timberlands valued at their current use rather than their highest and best use. The act states that it is in the best interest of the state to maintain, preserve, conserve, and otherwise continue in existence adequate open space lands for the production of food, fiber, and forest crops and to assure the use and enjoyment of natural resources and scenic beauty for the economic and social well-being of the state and its citizens.

What Lands Qualify For Classification

The law provides 3 classifications, however, Timber land has merged with Designated Forestland (RCW 84.33):

Open Space Land
Open space land is defined as either:
  1. Any land area zoned for open space by a comprehensive land use plan adopted by a city or county legislative authority, or
  2. Any land area in which the preservation in its present use would:
    1. Conserve and enhance natural or scenic resources
    2. Protect streams or water supply
    3. Promote conservation of soils, wetlands, beaches or tidal marshes
    4. Enhance the value to the public of abutting or neighboring parks, forest, wildlife preserves, nature reservations or sanctuaries or other open space
    5. Enhance recreation opportunities
    6. Preserve historic sites
    7. Preserve visual quality along highway, road, and street corridor or scenic vistas
    8. Retain in its natural state tracts of land not less than 1 acre situated in an urban area and open public use on such conditions as may be reasonably required by the granting authority
  3. Or, any land meeting the definition of "farm and agricultural conservation land" which means either:
    1. Land previously classified under farm and agriculture classification that no longer meets the criteria and is reclassified under open space land
    2. "Traditional farmland", not classified, that has not been irrevocably devoted to a use inconsistent with agricultural uses, and that has a high potential for returning to commercial agriculture
Farm & Agricultural Land
Farm and Agricultural land is defined as either:
  1. Any parcel of land that is 20 or more acres or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total 20 or more acres:
    1. Devoted primarily to the production of livestock or agriculture commodities for commercial purposes
    2. Enrolled in a cropland retirement program administered by the United States Department of Agriculture
  2. Any parcel of land that is 5 acres or more but less than 20 acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses equivalent to:
    1. $100 or more per acre per year for 3 of the 5 calendar years preceding the date of application for classification made prior to January 1, 1993, and
    2. On or after January 1, 1993, $200 or more per acre per year for 3 of the 5 calendar years preceding the date of application for classification
  3. Any parcel of land of less than 5 acres devoted primarily to agricultural uses which has produced a gross income of:
    1. $1,000 or more per year for 3 of the 5 calendar years preceding the date of application made prior to January 1, 1993, and
    2. On or after January 1, 1993, $1,500 or more per year for 3 of the 5 calendar years preceding the date of application for classification
  4. "Farm and agricultural land" also includes:
    1. Incidental uses compatible with agricultural purposes provided such use does not exceed 20% of the classified land
    2. Land on which appurtenances necessary for production, preparation, or sale of agricultural products exist in conjunction with the lands producing such products
    3. Any non-contiguous parcel 1 to 5 acres, that is an integral part of the farming operations
    4. Land on which housing for employees and principal place of residence of the farm operation or owner is sited provided the use of the housing or residence is integral to the use of the classified land for agricultural purposes and provided that the classified parcel is 20 or more acres
Timber Land
Timber Land has merged into the Designated Forestland classification (RCW 84.33) and Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapter 458-40. It means any parcel of land that is 5 or more acres or multiple parcels of land that are contiguous and total 5 or more acres which is or are devoted primarily to the growth and harvest of forest crops for commercial purposes.

Additional Information
For additional information:
  • State of Washington
    Department of Revenue
    P.O. Box 47471
    Olympia, WA 98504
    Ph: 360-570-5900