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Property Taxes going up despite downturn in the market

September 22, 2010

Many King County home owners are receiving quite a shock as they receive their new tax assessment cards. Their property taxes are actually going up -some significantly- despite an apparent loss of market value over the past couple of years. Leaving many people to ask “Why the (insert your favorite expletive here-I prefer “pants”) are my taxes going up?!”

Well, there may be a couple of reasons for this. Here is what the King County Assessor himself has to say:

Dear King County Taxpayer:

As real estate values have dropped, there is a natural expectation that your property taxes should drop as well. However, this may not be the case.

Depending upon where you live, the specific taxes levied in your area, and local real estate values, it’s possible that while the appraised value of your home has decreased, your taxes have increased.
That’s because about half of your property tax is determined by the levies that you and your neighbors have approved for such services as schools, parks, water districts, EMS and fire/rescue, among others. If these levies stay the same or increase from the year before, your property taxes may increase. Similarly, if other valuations decrease more than yours, your taxes may also increase.

Only 17 cents of every property tax dollar supports the King County General Fund. The other 83 cents are divided between the State, cities and other local jurisdictions.

There are 165 local taxing districts in King County, and break downs among levies are included in your specific tax bill.
Please call us at 206-296-7300 if you have any questions.

Lloyd Hara
King County Assessor

The thing that I don’t like about this message is that it reads like this is the tax payer’s fault with statements like “That’s because about half of your property tax is determined by the levies that you and your neighbors have approved…”.  To a certain degree this is true.   However, conspicuously missing from Mr. Hara’s statement is the adjustment Hara made to how property taxes are calculated.  According to King 5 News  it used to be that taxes were based on 85% of a property’s potential value, Hara has raised it to 92.5%.   Additionally, that number had been based on a three year average, which has now been shortened to two. To hear more go here: Let’s hear your thoughts.

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