Current Use Frequently Asked Questions

  How do I know if a property is receiving a current use exemption and if so, which one?

The property class or use code for the property will indicate the exemption.

830 = Current Use Farm & Agriculture

940 = Current Use Open Space

880 = Designated Forest Land

950 = Partially Designated Forest Land

  Will back taxes become due if a Designated Forest Land or a Current Use exemption is removed?

In almost all cases, yes.  There are a few rare exemptions to the back taxes that can be found in RCW 84.33.145 for Designated Forest Land and 84.34.108(6) for Current Use 

  How many years of compensating (back) taxes do I pay when Designated Forest Land is removed?

Compensating taxes are calculated for the current year plus 9 back years (10 years total) regardless of who owned the property at the time.
For example:

- If the property was classified as DFL for 7 years, you will pay back taxes for all 7 years. 

- If the property is classified as DFL for 15 years you will only pay 10 years of back taxes. 

  How many years of additional (back) taxes do I pay when a Current Use exemption is removed?

Back taxes are calculated for the current year plus 7 back years (8 years total) regardless of who owned the property at the time.

  How are compensating (back) taxes calculated for Designated Forest Land?

The current market value - current taxable value = difference
The difference x the current levy rate x the number of years in the program, not to exceed 10.        

  How are additional (back) taxes calculated for Current Use exemptions?

Back taxes equal the difference between the tax paid and the tax that would have been paid for the current year and the last seven years.  Plus, interest at 1% per month and a 20% penalty may also apply.  

A 20% penalty is applied if the property has been classified less than 10 years or the county prompted the removal process for non-compliance. 

  Can I get an estimate of how much the back tax will be?

The Assessor's Office can prepare an estimate of the back taxes; however, it could take up to 15 days.  You may email a request, please provide the parcel number of the property and any other specific details.

  I am thinking of buying property that is currently classified as Designated Forest Land, what do I need to know?

DFL is for the growth and harvest of commercial timber and must be at least 5 acres or more. 

As a new owner you will be required to submit a Timber Management Plan to the Assessor's Office within the first 6 months of ownership.  More information on Timber Management Plans can be found here.

  What is required in order to transfer/sell/purchase Designated Forest Land or Current Use property?

If the buyer wants to continue the exemption:

- All Grantees/Buyers must sign a continuance, accepting the responsibilities of the DFL property tax exemption.  A Notice of Continuance form can be found HERE.

- The signed Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit (REETA), legal description and the continuance must be reviewed in advance by the Assessor's Office.  This review process is usually done quickly, however, can take up to 15 days as provided by law.  

- If the continuance is approved the Assessor's Office will sign line 6(1) of the REETA and all documents can then go through the normal closing process.  Without the Assessor's signature the transfer documents will not be processes by the County.

If the buyer does not wish to continue the exemption:

- The Seller must submit a Request to Remove form to the Assessor's Office

- The back taxes must be paid to the Treasurer's Office prior-to or in-conjunction-with the transfer. 

- The removal process is usually done within one week, however, can take up to 15 days as provided by law. 

  How do I remove a property from the Designated Forest Land or Current Use property tax exemptions?

Submit one of the following forms to the Assessor's Office when you are ready to remove the exemption:

- Owner's Request to Remove from Current Use (if classified less than 10-years)

- Owners Request to Withdraw from Current Use (if classified 10-years or more)

The Assessor's Office will process the removal.  The removal is usually done within one week, however, can take up to 15 days as provided by law.  Once the       removal is complete the Treasurer's Office will send out a revised tax statement that includes the back tax.

  Can I build a home on property that is currently classified as Designated Forest Land? 

The property must be at least 6 acres in order to build a home.  A minimum 1-acre homesite must be removed from the exemption program and at least 5 acres must remain to continue any DFL exemption. 

Submit an Owner's Request to Remove form to the Assessor's Office for the homesite.  Be sure to indicate how many acres you wish to remove.  The Assessor's Office will process the removal.  The removal is usually done within one week, however, can take up to 15 days as provided by law.  Once the removal is complete the Treasurer's Office will send out a revised tax statement that includes the compensating/back tax.

  Can I build a home on property that is classified as Current Use? 

In almost all cases a 1-acre homesite must be removed from the exemption program in order to build. 

For properties classified as Current Use Farm & Agriculture that are 20 acres of more in size a taxable homesite may not be required, please contact the Assessor's Office for more information.   

To determine which form you need to complete and if a taxable homestie is required you can email our office, please be sure to include a parcel number and as many details as possible.

  Can I reclassify from Current Use or Designated Forest Land to another exemption program without paying back taxes?

Yes, in some cases: 

Current Use Farm & Agriculture Land may be reclassified to:

- Open Space

- Open Space Traditional Farm

- Designated Forest Land

Open Space Traditional Farm may be reclassified to:

- Farm & Agricultural Land

Open Space cannot be transferred into any other classification, it must be removed.

Designated Forest Land may be reclassified to:

- Open Space

- Farm & Agricultural Land 

  How do I apply for Current Use or Designated Forest Land?

For all programs your application must be received or post-marked by December 31st.  All applications received during that year will be reviewed and a decision made the following year.  You will be notified by mail of the decision.  If approved, your first tax break will be in the next year – this timeline is according to state law.  For example, if you submit your application in 2022, it will be reviewed in 2023 and if approved, will reduce your 2024 property taxes. 

Does Kitsap County offer a Timberland exemption?

Kitsap County does not have a Timberland exemption. Designated Forest Land and Timberland were merged together in 2014 with the passage of Senate Bill 6180 and County Ordinance 514-2014.