Washington's Lewis County merges timberland and forestland classifications; assessor says decision removes need for taxpayers to transfer to designated forestland from open space timber classification when filing taxes

CENTRALIA, Washington , July 15, 2014 () – All acreage in Lewis County classified as timber land will now be designated as forest land.

The Lewis County Commission agreed to terminate the timber land classification Monday and consolidated it with designated forest land.

Lewis County Assessor Dianne Dorey said it is in the public's best interest to merge the two classifications into one.

Dorey said the move gives taxpayers relief from having to transfer from Open Space Timber to Designated Forest Land classification when filing taxes.

Currently, the transfer fees collected do not fully cover the cost of processing the transfers, thus saving money for the taxpayers, according to Dorey.

Tax breaks for landowners will not change.

"Merging the timber land classification with the designated forest land program reduces the administrative workload and reduces the processing burden on the taxpayers," Dorey said.

The Lewis County Assessor's Office will notify each owner of timber land of the merger by certified mail. The notifications will cost the county $7,000.

Landowners will not be charged, since it is a change in the state law.

The state Legislature passed a bill earlier this year allowing counties the option of merging its timber land with designated forest land. Lewis County exercised that option Monday.

Commissioner Bill Schulte said the change in designation does not relate to Weyerhaeuser's recent decision to charge between $150 and $250 for a limited number of access permits on its land.

"This will not affect the current issues with Weyerhaeuser forest land and access," Schulte said. "This has nothing to with that."

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