Business Personal Property

Characteristics
  Personal property's primary characteristic is its mobility. It includes most machinery, equipment, furniture and fixtures associated with commercial, industrial or agricultural enterprises. Business inventories are exempt from property tax. However, supplies consumed in the operation of a business are taxable. The assessor uses the Business Personal Property Listing report to value property for taxes due the following year. Personal property tax rates are the same as for real property.

Business Personal Property Listing Reporting Deadline & Tax Rates

Everyone who uses personal property in a business must complete a personal property listing every year and submit it to the Assessor's Office by April 30. When completing the form you must:
  • List all assets you own as of January 1, including those assets fully depreciated in your accounting records and assets in storage.
  • Identify each personal property category. For example, office equipment should be broken into separate categories of personal computers, network servers, printers, phones, etc.
  • Include the total purchase cost of each item. This excludes sales or use tax, but includes costs to make the item usable such as installation and freight.
  • Include the date each item was acquired.
Return listings to the Whatcom County Assessor's Office.

Property Owner's Responsibility
As a property owner, you are responsible for filing a personal property listing each year that you have taxable property even if you do not receive the form by mail. If you have multiple business locations, you must complete a separate listing for each location. The assessed value is allocated to the taxing district based on where the property is located.

Types of Personal Property
Unless specifically exempt, all tangible personal property is subject to personal property tax. The major categories of taxable personal property include the following:
  • Machinery and Equipment, Fixtures and Furniture:
    • Office furniture and fixtures such as desks, chairs, etc.
    • Office equipment such as computers and printers.
    • Store fixtures and equipment.
    • Computer software (canned and embedded).
    • Manufacturing machinery and equipment.
    • Construction equipment.
    • Office trailers.
    • Signs.
    • Commercial fishing equipment.
  • Farm Equipment, Machinery, Supplies, and Tools: Most farm equipment, machinery and supplies are subject to personal property tax. An exemption or partial exemption may apply to some farm machinery and equipment. Contact the Assessor's Office for exemption information.
  • Leasehold Improvements: Personal property tax applies when the lessee/tenant retains ownership of the leasehold improvements, or is required to remove them at the end of the lease. For example, the improvements a lessee makes to a leased space are taxable as leasehold improvements.
  • Supplies, Materials and Tools: Taxable materials and supplies include office, shop, janitorial, brochures, promotional materials, fuel, spare parts, etc. Tax does not apply to items that are held for resale or that become an ingredient or component of an article manufactured for sale.
Forms & Additional Information
Applications for Personal Property Exemption:
    Farm Machinery and Equipment
    Bio-Fuel Manufacturing Equipment
    Nightclub Fire Suppression Systems
  More information can be found by contacting the Assessor's Office at 360-676-6790