Updating land patent
In response to your second question, we conclude that the homestead exemption does not apply to a county's foreclosure action for delinquent property taxes.
We reach this conclusion because a 1987 amendment to RCW 6.13.070 clarifies that the homestead exemption extends only to "debts of the owner." Our Supreme Court has previously held that debts for unpaid real property taxes attach to the land, and do not become personal debts of the owner.
The following analysis, therefore, responds to your question in a general way, without regard to whether the property owner has raised other concepts in connection with filing the homestead exemption.
"The homestead consists of real or personal property that the owner uses as a residence." RCW 6.13.010(1). The Legislature has implemented that provision through the enactment of chapter 6.13 RCW.
The Washington State Court of Appeals has concluded, in a different context, that the statutory list of the types of liens to which the homestead does not apply is exclusive. In those jurisdictions, however, the relevant constitutions and statutes expressly provide for collection of assessments and taxes against homesteads. In Washington, by contrast, the statute did not list assessments and taxes as exceptions to the homestead.
Our state constitution provides for a uniform power of taxation as to all property. A person may not avoid the payment of property taxes by claiming to hold the real estate as an allodial freehold estate.
Your second question, repeated for ease of reference, inquired: 2.
BACKGROUND Before analyzing the questions you have posed, it may be helpful to summarize briefly the circumstances underlying those questions.
As you describe in your letter requesting this opinion, a property owner in your county has claimed an absolute exemption from the payment of all property taxes.
The court concluded that the homestead exemption applied to the city's effort to foreclose on the assessment.