The Washington Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of a county document recording surcharge that financed affordable housing, eviction prevention, and housing stability services. A trade association of homebuilders challenged the surcharge as a property tax that violates the uniformity requirement of the Washington Constitution. The court held that the surcharge was a tax because its primary purpose was to raise revenue for a desired public benefit. However, the surcharge was not subject to the uniformity requirement because it was an excise tax, not a property tax. The document recording surcharge was not a property tax because it is not levied on property ownership, but rather on “the exercise of rights in and to property or the exercise of a privilege.”

Bldg. Indus. Ass’n of Washington v. State of Washington, No. 57502-7-II, (Wash. Ct. App. 2024).