Man stops paying taxes, citing 1878 state constitution

Clark Co. auctioned David Darby’s land after he refused to pay property taxes

David Darby (pictured here) says under Washington’s 1878 State Constitution, he does not have to pay property taxes because of his land patent for his property, Sept. 16, 2014. (KOIN 6)
David Darby (pictured here) says under Washington’s 1878 State Constitution, he does not have to pay property taxes because of his land patent for his property, Sept. 16, 2014. (KOIN 6)

AMBOY, Wash. (KOIN 6) — Clark County auctioned David Darby’s land on Tuesday to cover back taxes for the property because Darby stopped paying them in 2009.

Darby has owned 4.7 acres of land in Amboy, Wash., for 35 years. Property, he said, he acquired a land patent for, meaning he doesn’t have to pay taxes for the land under Washington’s 1878 State Constitution.

Clark County auctioned David Darby’s land on Tuesday to cover back taxes for the property because Darby stopped paying them in 2009, Sept. 16, 2014. (KOIN 6)
Clark County auctioned David Darby’s land on Tuesday to cover back taxes for the property because Darby stopped paying them in 2009, Sept. 16, 2014. (KOIN 6)

He said he won’t be leaving the land anytime soon despite the recent auction.

“I have a legal and a lawful right to it,” Darby said.

The county sold his property for just over $63,000 in an online auction on Tuesday.

“He was paying taxes up until that time and then he stopped,” said Clark County Treasurer Doug Lasher.

Lasher said Darby‘s land is one of 52 properties in foreclosure right now.

Records indicated that Darby had not paid property taxes since 2009. He said he stopped paying because the county would not recognize the 1878 constitution.

“It’s all longhand. They didn’t have copiers then,” said Darby.

Darby produced a copy of Washington’s 1878 State Constitution, which prohibits the taxation of patented land. However, the state operates under a different constitution that was validated 11 years later in 1889 – one that Darby calls illegal.

The county said its work regarding the auction of the land is done. According to Lasher, it’s not the county’s responsibility to remove Darby from the property.

“That [land patent] is something that he will have to argue with the new owner,” Lasher said.

Lasher added the county will have its back taxes when the person who won the bidding war pays up, but Darby said he’s not done fighting.

“I feel sorry for the buyer,” Darby said.

He said he plans to pursue legal action and prove the older constitution is the true one.

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