What is a Current Use Assessment?
Current Use Assessments are a statutory tool adopted in 1970 in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapter 84.34 and the Washington Administrative Code (WAC) Chapter 458-30. Through this process, land owners can apply to have their open space, farm/agricultural, and timber lands and historic properties valued, for tax purposes, at their current use value rather than at the highest and best use that would be permitted by zoning.
This provides property owners with an incentive to maintain their land as open space by lowering their taxes. The program is voluntary, and property owners may remove their property from the program at any time, paying back taxes and a penalty if they do so within ten years of entering the program.
The City and Pierce County jointly review Current Use Assessment applications within the City. In conducting its review, the City considers its goal of conserving lands that are valuable for the natural, recreational, aesthetic and/or other open space benefits they provide to the public. The City’s One Tacoma: Comprehensive Plan and Current Use Assessment regulations contained in Tacoma Municipal Code (TMC) Chapter 13.08 guide the City’s review.
Additionally, the City considers the County’s findings as determined through use of a point system called the Public Benefit Rating System (PBRS), contained in Pierce County Code 2.114.060. The PBRS is used by the County to determine how much public benefit is derived from the subject open space site, and therefore how much of a tax reduction to grant.