Transfers of real property to a governmental entity under an imminent threat of the exercise of eminent domain, a court judgment or settlement with a government entity based upon a claim of inverse condemnation, or as a result of the actual exercise of eminent domain, are not subject to the real estate excise tax.
(2) Transfer must be to a governmental entity.
To qualify for this exemption, the threat of condemnation or the exercise of eminent domain must be made by a governmental entity with the actual power to exercise eminent domain.
(3) Threat to exercise eminent domain must be imminent.
To qualify for this exemption, the governmental entity must have either filed condemnation proceedings against the seller/grantee; or:
(a) The governmental entity must have notified the seller in writing of its intent to exercise its power of eminent domain prior to the sale; and
(b) The governmental entity must have the present ability and authority to use its power of eminent domain against the subject property at the time of sale; and
(c) The governmental entity must have specific statutory authority authorizing its power of eminent domain for property under the conditions presented.
(4) Inverse condemnation.
Inverse condemnation occurs when the government constructively takes real property even though formal eminent domain proceedings are not actually taken against the subject property. The seller must have a judgment against the governmental entity, or a court approved settlement, based upon inverse condemnation to claim the exemption.
The following examples, while not exhaustive, illustrate some of the circumstances in which a sale to a governmental entity may or may not be exempt on the basis of condemnation or threat of eminent domain. The status of each situation must be determined after a review of all the facts and circumstances.
(a) The Jazz Port school district wants to purchase property for a new school. An election has been held to authorize the use of public funds for the purchase, and the general area for the site has been chosen. In order to proceed, the district will need to obtain a five-acre parcel owned by the Fairwood family. The district has been granted authority to obtain property by the use of eminent domain if required. The district has notified the Fairwoods in writing of its intention to exercise its powers of eminent domain if necessary to obtain the land. The Fairwoods, rather than allowing the matter to proceed to court, agree to sell the parcel to the Jazz Port district. The school district will use the parcel for construction of the new school. The conveyance from the Fairwoods to Jazz Port school district is exempt from real estate excise tax because the transfer was made under the imminent threat of the exercise of eminent domain.
(b) The Sonata City Parks Department has the authority to obtain land for possible future development of parks. The department would like to obtain waterfront property for preservation and future development. They approach Frankie and Chaz Friendly with an offer to purchase the Friendlys' 20-acre waterfront parcel. The Parks Department does not have a current appropriation for actual construction of a park on the site, and the City Council has not specifically authorized an exercise of eminent domain to obtain the subject property. The conveyance from the Friendlys to the city is subject to the real estate excise tax, because the transfer was not made under the imminent threat of the exercise of eminent domain.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 82.32.300, 82.01.060(2), and82.45.150 . 05-23-093, § 458-61A-206, filed 11/16/05, effective 12/17/05.]