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. RCW 84.33 allows land used for the growth and harvest of timber to be valued as Designated Forest Land when certain conditions are met.
For parcels used primarily for commercial agriculture, or related uses described in RCW 84.34. Based on size, certain income requirements must be met.
For parcels used primarily for the growth and harvest of timber, as described in RCW 84.33. The Open Space Timber program no longer exists in Whatcom County, and has been merged with the Designated Forest Land program.
Persons applying for classification of land as open space designations of open space, or farm conservation shall make such application to the County Planning and Development Services department for review by the county planning commission. Additional information can be found on their webpage located here.
Applications may be made for classification at any time during the year from January 1 through December 31. If approved, valuation as Open Space or Designated Forest Land begins on January 1 the year after the application was filed. For example, an application made any time in calendar year 2022 will be processed in 2023 for a change to taxes due in 2024.
|Application Year||Processed Year||Property Taxes Changed in Year|
Farm and Agricultural Land classification applications are filed with the assessor and must include the necessary application fee to be considered complete. Supporting income documents (in the form of tax return schedules E or F) are required for parcels under 20.0 acres. Application form can be found here.
Designated Forest Land applications are filed with the assessor and must include the necessary application fee as well as a timber management plan. Application form can be found here.
If approved, the assessor shall record an approval of classification with the county auditor for public recording of the tax lien on real property.
If denied, the owner may appeal the assessor’s denial to the Board of Equalization in the county where the property is located. The appeal must be filed with the board within thirty days after the mailing of the notice of denial.
|Program Name||Application Fee|
|Farm and Agricultural Land||$250|
|Designated Forest Land||$250|
|Open Space Land||See Planning and Development Services website for application fee|
When land classified as RCW 84.33 or 84.34 is sold or transferred, the property may retain the current classification only if:
In order to make that determination the following documents are required depending on the program.
Farm and Agricultural Land
Designated Forest Land
Washington State University Extension Forestry has a list of forestry professionals here. This list is compiled by Washington State University (WSU) Extension Forestry and is provided as a courtesy. No endorsement is intended nor implied for any forester listed. Any qualified forester or person with comparable experience may prepare a plan, so long as the plan meets the requirements listed in the Washington State Integrated Forest Management Plan Guidelines.
Open Space Land
For any questions please contact us by calling 360-778-5050 or emailing [email protected].