Washington Property Tax Exemption, HJR 4223 (2006)

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Washington Constitution
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Washington House Joint Resolution 4223, also known as the act for Increasing an Exemption from the Personal Property Tax appeared on the November 7, 2006 election ballot in Washington as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.

Election results

HJR 4223
Approveda Yes 1,581,373 79.82%


HJR 4223 authorized the Washington State Legislature to increase the maximum personal property tax exemption for taxable personal property owned by each “head of a family” from $3,000 to $15,000.

HJR 4223 became the 98th amendment to the Washington State Constitution, amending Section 1 of Article VII.


The specific question asked on the ballot was, "The legislature has proposed a constitutional amendment on increasing an exemption from the personal property tax. This amendment would authorize the legislature to increase the personal property tax exemption for taxable personal property owned by each “head of a family” from three thousand ($3,000) to fifteen thousand ($15,000) dollars. Should this constitutional amendment be approved or rejected?"

Explanatory statement

The Attorney General of Washington is required to provide an explanatory statement for every statewide ballot measure. The explanatory statement provided in the official voter guide for HJR 4223 said:

The state constitution and state statutes provide for a property tax based on the value of property. Property taxes apply to both real property (land, buildings, and permanent fixtures) and personal property (all other property that is not real estate). The amount of the tax is determined based upon the assessed valuation of the property. Certain personal property is exempt from tax, including household goods, furnishings and personal effects used by the owner, and most business merchandise. Personal property subject to property tax consists mainly of office furniture and business equipment, fixtures, and machinery.
The state constitution authorizes the legislature to enact an additional statutory exemption for taxable personal property worth up to $3,000 owned by each individual who is a "head of a family" and the legislature has done so. An individual who is a "head of a family," as defined by statute, and by rule of the Department of Revenue, qualifies for the exemption. A "head of a family" is defined to include a husband or wife, or a surviving spouse not remarried; any person receiving an old age pension under state laws; any citizen of the United States, over the age of sixty-five who has resided in Washington continuously for ten years; and other individuals who reside with and provide care and maintenance for family members, as defined. Corporations, limited liability companies, and partnerships do not qualify for the exemption.
When an individual who qualifies as a "head of a family" owns taxable personal property, the individual is entitled to an exemption of up to $3,000.

Statement in favor

A statement in favor of HJR 4223 was included with the official voter guide. The statement was written by state representatives Derek Kilmer and Mark Ericks; Don Brunell, President of the Association of Washington Business; Carolyn Logue, State Director, National Federation of Independent Business; Klaus Golombek, retired banker and Kitsap County business owner; and Gary Smith, Executive Director, Independent Business Association.

The statement said:

  • Small businesses are the heart of Washington’s economy. Yet, the local businesses that provide good jobs for our families and communities often struggle to stay afloat.
  • This proposed constitutional amendment – HJR 4223 – will help local businesses grow and succeed.
  • Currently, businesses must pay a personal property tax on their assets. The first $3,000 of their assets are exempt from the tax. HJR 4223 would raise the exemption allowed under the State Constitution to $15,000.
  • Increasing the exemption will help businesses throughout Washington. Start up businesses, in-home businesses and businesses updating old equipment – such as computers or machinery – will benefit from this change.
  • This amendment will:
  • Save money for Washington’s employers, enabling them to invest more in their workers and in improving competitiveness;
  • Enable small businesses to upgrade their technologies without substantially increasing their tax burden;
  • Reduce paperwork.
  • This reform is long overdue. While the cost of everyday items has increased significantly, this exemption has not been raised since 1988.
  • HJR 4223 was prime-sponsored by State Representative Derek Kilmer, who works with small businesses every day as a manager with the Economic Development Board in Pierce County. The proposal passed unanimously out of the State House and Senate.
  • It received the support of the Association of Washington Business, the National Federation of Independent Business, the Independent Business Association and local businesses throughout our state.
  • As citizens, we have the ability to pass this constitutional amendment and help our small businesses compete. Please vote “yes."

Statement against

No statements in opposition to HJR 4223 were provided by any opponents for the official ballot guide.

See also

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