Chapter 3.12
REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY TAXES

Sections:

3.12.010    Definitions.

3.12.020    Exemptions.

3.12.030    Council – Authority.

3.12.040    Assessor – Duty.

3.12.050    Real property subject to tax.

3.12.060    Personal property subject to tax.

3.12.070    Personal property tax on motor vehicles.

3.12.080    Boats and vessels.

3.12.090    Personal property tax return.

3.12.100    Assessment of real and personal property – Procedure.

3.12.110    Penalty and interest.

3.12.120    Enforcement of tax liens.

3.12.125    Enforcement of tax liens on personal property.

3.12.130    Violation – Penalty.

3.12.010 Definitions.

In this chapter unless the context otherwise requires:

“Assessor” means the City Manager or his professional designee.

“City Clerk” includes the term “Clerk-Treasurer” and any duly authorized deputy City Clerk.

“Personal property” means any property not defined as real property in this section.

“Real property” means not only the land itself, whether laid out in lots or otherwise, but also all buildings, structures, improvements, fixtures of whatsoever kind thereon, and all possessory rights and privileges belonging to or in anywise appertaining thereto, and the word “tract” includes all lands, pieces, or parcels of land which may be separately assessed together with fixtures and improvements thereon. Apartments, mobile homes, trailers, house trailers, trailer coaches and similar property used or intended to be used for residential, office or commercial purposes and attached to the land or connected to water, gas, electric or sewage facilities are classed as real property for tax purposes, unless such trailers, mobile homes, house trailers, trailer coaches and similar property are located in established mobile home courts, in which case they shall be classified as personal property.

“Situs” means the place where an item of personal property is located. [Ord. 316-94 § 2, 1995; Ord. dated 4/17/84 § 06.01.010. Prior code § 8.10.010].

3.12.020 Exemptions.

The following personal property is exempt from taxation:

A. The household property of a head of a family or household;

B. The property of an organization not organized for business or profit making purposes and used exclusively for community purposes; provided, that income derived from rental of such property does not exceed the actual cost to the owner of the use by the renter; and

C. Business inventories. [Ord. 1, 1985. Prior code § 8.10.040].

3.12.030 Council – Authority.

The City Council may assess, levy, and collect a general tax for City purposes not to exceed eight-tenths of one percent of the assessed valuation of all real and personal property except as otherwise herein provided, and enforce collection by foreclosure, levy distress and sale. The levies shall be separately made and fixed, and the aggregate of them shall not exceed eight-tenths of one percent of the assessed value of the property assessed. [Ord. 574-11 § 2, 2011. Prior code § 8.10.020(a)].

3.12.040 Assessor – Duty.

The Assessor shall once every three years duly list and assess the taxable property of the City at its just and fair value. [Ord. 274-93 § 2, 1993; Ord. dated 4/17/84 § 06.01.020. Prior code § 8.10.020(b)].

3.12.050 Real property subject to tax.

A. All real property not expressly exempted by law shall be subject to annual taxation at its full and true value based upon the actual value of the property assessed.

B. When any real property, which for any reason is exempt from taxation, is leased, loaned or otherwise made available to and used by a private individual, association or corporation, such property shall be taxable to the extent of the lessee’s or user’s interest therein. Taxes shall be assessed to such lessees or users of real property and collected in the same manner as taxes assessed to owners of real property, except that such taxes shall be a lien only on the lessee’s or user’s interest in the property. When due, such taxes shall constitute a debt due from the lessee or user to the City and shall be recoverable by a personal action against the lessee or user. This remedy shall be in addition to the remedy of foreclosure. [Ord. 1, 1985; Ord. dated 4/17/84 § 06.01.030; Ord. 12-6-83A, 1983; Ord. 79-5, 1979. Prior code § 8.10.030].

3.12.060 Personal property subject to tax.

Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the following personal property which has a tax situs within the City is subject to taxation:

A. All vehicles propelled by other than human muscular power. This shall include, but is not limited to, automobiles, motorcycles, aircraft, boats and snowmobiles;

B. Mobile homes which are situated on temporary footings or temporary foundations;

C. All other personal property not exempted by Alaska State Statutes or WMC 3.12.020 and which is located within the City of Whittier on January 1st of any tax assessment year. The tax situs shall continue to be the City of Whittier even when the property is not within the City of Whittier on January 1st of any tax assessment year if the personal property has been, or is usually, normally or regularly kept or used within the City of Whittier. In making this determination personal property will be considered as usually, normally, or regularly kept or used within the City if it is present within the City for 90 days or more in the 12 months preceding the January 1st of any tax assessment year; or if the property in question has been or is kept or used within the City for any length of time preceding January 1st of any tax assessment year if such physical location of the property within the City was not intended to be casual or temporary. [Ord. 369-97 § 2, 1997; Ord. 316-94 § 3, 1995; Ord. 1, 1985].

3.12.070 Personal property tax on motor vehicles.

A. The personal property tax with respect to all motor vehicles shall be calculated according to the age of the motor vehicle as set out in AS 28.10.431(b).

B. The above tax shall be collected by the Department of Public Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles, as provided in AS 28.10.431(a).

C. In the event that the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Division of Motor Vehicles, fails to collect the above tax on behalf of the City, the tax shall be due and owing as otherwise provided in WMC 3.12.090 et seq. [Ord. 12-6-83A, 1983. Prior code § 8.10.045].

3.12.080 Boats and vessels.

A. There is assessed and levied annually a tax on boats at their full and true value.

B. It shall be presumed that a boat or vessel is situated in the City and subject to personal property tax, whether or not the boat or vessel is physically present on January 1st, if the owner of the boat or vessel is a party to a permanent berthing agreement, or an annual transient berthing agreement, or a monthly transient berthing agreement totaling 90 days or more in the previous calendar year, or a daily transient berthing agreement totaling 90 days or more in the previous calendar year as of January 1st. [Ord. 414-01 § 2, 2000; Ord. 369-97 § 3, 1997; Ord. 100-88 § 2, 1987; Ord. 4-26-84, 1984; Ord. dated 4/17/84 § 06.01.040; Ord. 12-6-83A, 1983; Ord. 79-5, 1979. Prior code § 8.10.050].

3.12.090 Personal property tax return.

A. Every person shall submit to the Assessor a personal property return of any property owned by him or in which he has an interest, and the property held or controlled by him in a representative capacity, in the manner prescribed by this chapter, which return shall be based on property values existing as of the first day of January of the year in which the return is made. The person making the return in every case shall state an address to which all notices required to be given to him under this chapter may be mailed or delivered. The return shall show the nature, quantity, description, amount, and value of all personal property, as well as the place where the property is situated. The return shall be in such form and include such additional information as the Council or Assessor may prescribe and shall be signed and verified under oath by the person liable or his or its authorized agent or representative.

B. The return shall be filed before February 15th of each year. The Assessor may, by notice in writing to the person by whom a return has been made, require from him a further return and a receipt of the notice; that person shall comply fully with its requirements within 30 days. If no return is filed as required by this section, or if the return is filed late, the taxpayer shall pay a penalty of five percent of any personal property tax for any filing with the Assessor after February 1st but before June 1st of each year, and, after June 1st, the penalty shall be 10 percent of any personal property tax levied, plus interest at the rate of eight percent a year from the date the taxes would ordinarily come due.

C. All statements on personal property tax returns made by any person required under this chapter to file such return shall be confidential and said return may not be inspected by any person except officers authorized to administer the tax laws of the United States, or the State of Alaska, or this City, or a law enforcement officer, or in response to a proper subpoena from a court. Any employee who violates this restriction by communicating any information obtained under these provisions, except such information as required by law to be shown on the assessment rolls, or who allows any person not legally entitled thereto to inspect or have access to any return made under these provisions is guilty of an infraction, punishable under this chapter, and shall be immediately discharged from his office of employment. [Ord. 03-2020 § 6, 2020; Ord. 316-94 § 4, 1995; Ord. 4-26-84, 1984; Ord. dated 4/17/84 § 06.01.050; Ord. 12-6-83A, 1983; Ord. 79-10, 1979; Ord. 79-5, 1979. Prior code § 8.10.060].

3.12.100 Assessment of real and personal property – Procedure.

The procedure for assessing real and personal property for taxation shall be as provided in AS 29.45.010 et seq., and any amendments thereto. The procedure by which a taxpayer may object to the assessment of real or personal property is contained in AS 29.45.180 through 29.45.210 and any amendments thereto. The City Council shall sit as the board of equalization. [Ord. 353-97 § 2, 1997. Prior code § 8.10.070].

3.12.110 Penalty and interest.

The penalty for late payment shall be 10 percent and shall be added to all delinquent taxes and interest at the rate of eight percent a year shall accrue upon all unpaid taxes, not including penalty, from the due date until paid in full. [Ord. 386-98 § 2, 1998; Ord. dated 4/17/84 § 06.01.060; Ord. 12-6-83A, 1983; Ord. 79-10, 1979; Ord. 79-5, 1979. Prior code § 8.10.080].

3.12.120 Enforcement of tax liens.

The procedure for enforcing tax liens for real property tax shall be as provided in AS 29.45.290 through 29.45.500 and any amendments thereto. [Ord. 13-2013 § 2, 2013. Prior code § 8.10.090].

3.12.125 Enforcement of tax liens on personal property.

A. Property taxes, together with penalty and interest, are a lien upon the property assessed, and the lien is prior and paramount to all other liens or encumbrances.

B. Property taxes assessed against personal property, together with penalty and interest, may be collected, after they become due, either by distraint and sale or a personal action against the property owner brought in the name of the City. The City may pursue either or both remedies.

C. The procedure for distraint and sale shall be as follows:

1. The Assessor shall first make written demand for payment of any tax not paid by the due date. The demand for payment shall be sent by certified mail to the address provided in the property owner’s personal property return or, if none, the owner’s last known address. Alternatively, demand may be presented to the owner’s agent authorized by law to receive service of process. The notice shall provide that if the taxes and interest are not paid by a certain date, not less than 15 days after the date of notice, the personal property will be subject to sale.

2. If payment in full of the tax is not received by the date specified in the written demand for payment, the Assessor may issue a distraint warrant to a peace officer. The warrant shall include a description of the property subject to distraint, the amount and year of the taxes, penalty, interest, costs to date, and the total amount then due, as well as the date, time, and place of the intended sale.

3. The Assessor shall search the Alaska State Recorder’s office database by the property owner’s name. If there is any active lien or financing statement attached to the property that is to be distrained, the Assessor shall mail to the lienholder or secured party a copy of the distraint warrant on the date that the warrant is issued to the peace officer.

4. The peace officer may remove the property or let it remain where it is and take appropriate measures to ensure that the property is not removed before sale. A copy of the distraint warrant shall be attached to the distrained property if the property is not removed. A copy of the distraint warrant shall be mailed by certified mail to the address provided in the personal property return or, if none, the owner’s last known address. Alternatively, the warrant may be mailed to the owner’s agent authorized by law to receive service of process.

5. The Assessor shall cause at least one notice to be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the City, describing the property distrained and the intended time and place of sale.

6. The property shall be restored to the owner upon payment by cash prior to the sale of all taxes, penalty, interest, and costs.

7. The sale shall be by public auction, as provided in WMC 3.32.290, not less than 15 days after the date of the first publication.

8. The proceeds of the sale shall be applied first to costs, including the costs of the sale, then to interest, then to penalty, then to taxes.

9. The former property owner shall be notified of the results of the sale by certified mail at the address provided in the personal property return or, if none, the person’s last known address or, alternatively, notice may be given to the former owner’s agent authorized by law to receive service of process.

10. The City shall remit any funds received at the sale in excess of the total amount of costs, interest, penalty and tax to the previous owner or lienholder or secured party upon presentation of a proper claim and in exchange for a signed release of the City. A claim for excess funds filed later than six months from the date of sale is forever barred. [Ord. 13-2013 § 3, 2013].

3.12.130 Violation – Penalty.

Unless another penalty is expressly provided by law, every person convicted of a violation of any provision of this chapter shall be punishable by a fine of not more than $500.00. [Ord. 102-88 § 4, 1988. Prior code § 8.10.100].