WA Legal Roundup: Division II
Grays Harbor Energy (GHE) appeals the trial court’s assessment regarding its non-operating power generating equipment for tax purposes. Grays Harbor County tax assessed the property as real property (which assumedly results in higher taxes) whereas GHE argues that the equipment meets the statutory definition of personal property.
After the tax made the tax assessment GHE appealed to the Equalization Board who agreed with GHE and lowered the taxes. The County appealed to the State Board of Tax who held that the property was real as it was considered affixed to the land and improvements to real property. After exhausting its remedies with the State Board of Tax, GHE argued its excessive taxation claim in trial court and lost. GHE appeals today and the appeals court agrees with GHE and reversed and remanded.
The appeals court, reviewing an agencies decision and reversing when based on erroneous interpretation of the law found that under the statutes plain meaning the same clearly states that GHE’s generators should be taxed as personal and not real property. RCW 84.12.280 provides that "all of the operating property other than lands and buildings of electric light and power companies . . . shall be assessed and taxed as personal property." RCW 84.12.200(12) provides in part that "operating property" means and includes "all property, real and personal . . . used by the company in the conduct of its operations."