PROPERTY TAXES: Bills on the way; here’s why they’re generally higher

Own property? The King County Assessor’s Office sent word today that bills are about to go out, explaining why most will be higher:

Two changes in our state’s school funding formula will lead to a 13.7% increase in property tax collections in King County for the 2020 tax year. Overall property tax collections for the 2020 tax year are $6.3 billion, an increase of $767 million or 13.7% from the previous year of $5.7 billion. Total County value increased by 5.92%, from $ 606.6 to $642.5 billion.

The increase in taxes is primarily due to two changes in education funding made by the Legislature; an increase in the statewide education levy, and increased authority for school districts to collect local levies:

The State Legislature passed SHB 2242 in the 2017 legislative session to fully fund the state’s program for basic education (McCleary). The total state rate of $2.70/$1,000 was to be for tax years 2018 thru 2022. In 2018 the Legislature passed ESSB 6614 to temporarily lower the total state rate to $2.40/$1,000. Under the law, the 2020 State School Fund rate is now back to $2.70/$1,000 for the 2020 tax year,
In conjunction with the above, ESSB 5313 authorizes enhancement levies (aka maintenance and operation levies) to increase from the maximum $1.50/$1,000 to $2.50/$1,000 of assessed value, $2,500 per student enrollment ($3,000 for districts with 400,000 TE students or more), or the voter approved amount for the 2020 tax year, whichever is the lessor of the three amounts.

King County Treasury will begin sending out the annual property tax bills February 14. King County collects property taxes on behalf of the state, the county, cities, and taxing districts (such as school and fire districts), and distributes the revenue to these local governments.

About 55 percent of property tax revenues collected in King County in 2019 pays for schools. Property taxes also fund voter-approved measures for veterans and seniors, fire protection, and parks. King County receives about 18 percent of your property tax payment for roads, police, criminal justice, public health, elections, and parks, among other services.

“Property tax policy remains in a state of flux,” said King County Assessor John Wilson. “It’s important to remember changes in the law, or approval of special levies, have much more impact on changes to your tax bill than does the changing value of your property.”

Property taxes vary depending upon location, the assessed value of the property, and the number of jurisdictions levying taxes (such as state, city, county, school district, port, fire district, etc).

A number of levies and other property tax measures were approved by voters in 2019 for collection in 2020. They include: [editor’s note – we’ve edited out mentions of the ones NOT affecting this area]

o King County: Renewal of the EMS regular property tax levy at a rate of $0.265/$1,000 for the first year of the six-year levy, an increase in rate of $0.04738/$1,000 from the previous year.

o King County: Renewal of Parks lid lift at a rate of $0.1832/$1,000 for the first year. Seniors/disabled taxpayers in the Senior Exemption Program are exempt from paying this lid lift.

o City of Seattle: Seattle Public Library seven-year regular property tax levy at a rate not to exceed $0.122/$1,000 in the first year. Seniors/disabled taxpayers in the Senior Exemption Program are exempt from paying this lid lift.

o Seattle Public Schools in King County passed an Enhancement levy.

o SPS passed a six-year Capital Projects levy.

Low-income seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners may qualify for a property-tax exemption offered by King County. Information on how to apply for an exemption, along with other property-assessment-related information, can be found at

Property owners can find tax levy rates and more property related information by visiting the eReal Property Search on the King County Assessor’s website or by calling 206-296-7300.

44 Replies to "PROPERTY TAXES: Bills on the way; here's why they're generally higher"

  • Chris February 13, 2020 (5:45 pm)

    The link provided below is down until tomorrow morning as we just tried.    Thanks WSB for the info.    We wish our homes could be the safe place for all & not have to pay property taxes on them.   It is what it is…..

  • flimflam February 13, 2020 (6:45 pm)

    they are “generally higher” because for some reason any and every levy gets passed and they never expire, contrary to the “well its just being replaced” argument.

  • Jim P. February 13, 2020 (6:51 pm)

    Turnips only contain so much blood.

    • heartless February 13, 2020 (8:01 pm)

      Good thing turnips don’t own homes in Seattle.

  • TJ February 13, 2020 (7:08 pm)

    Education taxes are running away from inflation. The McCleary decision took care of school funding, yet people are still saying it’s not enough. They’ll be coming for more. Count on it 

    • Sixbuck February 13, 2020 (9:27 pm)

      When it comes to taxes it seems as if it’s never enough.  How far can they push before our tax base literally breaks?

  • Graciano February 13, 2020 (7:20 pm)

    Keep voting yes, now you get to pay for it. 

    • heartless February 13, 2020 (8:00 pm)

      Until we get an income tax, happy to do it.

      • Moose2 February 13, 2020 (8:48 pm)

        Absolutely. An income tax would be a much fairer way to pay for our society (schools, law enforcement, fire department, etc) rather than all these different levies.

        • ARPigeonPoint February 14, 2020 (12:11 pm)

          Y’all realize that states with income taxes *still* request bonds/levies for education and other things, right? They still have gas taxes.  They still have sales taxes (at an amount equal to ours).  An income tax is only going to greatly reduce your funds.

          • heartless February 14, 2020 (2:24 pm)

            Pigeon:  Is your stance really that Washington’s lack of income tax has no impact on its sales, business, property, etc., tax rates?  That’s an…um…interesting(?) argument… 

            I guess you really don’t realize our property taxes are getting higher in part because we don’t have an income tax. 

            Weird you haven’t figured that out.

          • GimmeHockeyNow February 14, 2020 (6:57 pm)

            Um, maybe, but based on my experience the sales tax here is roughly double.  And in the last state I lived in (Wisconsin) they had property, income and sales tax and there was immensely better quality of life – roads, schools, support services and treatment of homelessness.  It was a far cry from the Scott Walker image – still in top 10 of states with revenue – but you didn’t mind paying.  Here, we seem to get nothing but increases and dingbat city council people trying to kill the economy.   And, no usurious taxation of liter+ bottles of liquor either.

      • Spooled February 14, 2020 (6:09 pm)

        Heartless:I fully expect that if Washington ever has an income tax (or even just seattle, Shudder!) it will be IN ADDITION TO all our existing property taxes and levies.  Do you really think they’ll reduce or eliminate taxes / levies once they start hitting our paychecks too?!  My lifetime experience says NO, they’ll keep what they have and demand more.

        • heartless February 14, 2020 (7:58 pm)

          I said nothing about reductions.  But do I think other taxes will be less likely to be raised if we had an income tax?  Sure.  Look at Tennessee.  Look at other states without income tax–the money needs to come from somewhere, and if there is no income tax then other taxes rise more than they otherwise would.  It isn’t rocket science.

      • Wseattleite February 14, 2020 (6:30 pm)

        So as soon as there is an income tax, heartless will suddenly become fiscally responsible. Until then, happily imposing untenable burden on the neighbors. I seriously doubt an income tax will suddenly change either of those two character traits. 

        • heartless February 14, 2020 (8:02 pm)

          WS:  Yeah, I’m a jerk for thinking taxes are a good idea.  You win.  Now shove off and live on some dipsh!t libertarian island with your fellow idiots.

          In case you actually did miss my point–which, honestly, I’m afraid you may have–income tax would alleviate a lot of the pain caused by sales and property taxes.  So yeah, get out of here with you claiming I want to impose “untenable” burdens on neighbors.  That’s not gonna fly.

          • Barton February 14, 2020 (8:36 pm)

            Wow heartless.  Such civility – it makes me want to listen to all the pearls of wisdom that you so graciously scatter.

          • heartless February 14, 2020 (8:52 pm)

            I like how you’re not saying I’m wrong.

            Care less about civility, more about the facts.

          • barton February 15, 2020 (8:08 am)

            It doesn’t matter – you aren’t going to persuade or educate anyone by being a jerk.  The people that agree with you will keep agreeing and those that don’t will write off your message because of the delivery.  

          • Barton February 15, 2020 (11:41 am)

            Right or wrong, no one that doesn’t already agree with you is going to pay to Any attention to your facts if they follow “Now shove off and live on some dipsh!t libertarian island with your fellow idiots.“   If you believe an income tax is the best solution try to get people thinking about it not alienating them with over the top rudeness.  

          • heartless February 15, 2020 (8:09 pm)

            Barton:  rhetoric is not a singular beast; one size does not fit all.  Sometimes I try to cajole, sometimes I try to persuade with fire, and sometimes with light–and yes, sometimes I bite.

            And sometimes I encounter those who present as libertarian dipsh!ts.  These people are idiots.  And do I detract from my arguments by calling them out as such?  Perhaps.  But perhaps, sometimes, that is the move to make.  (And remember that sometimes it is not about changing the mind of an individual, but about smacking them in public–so that others will see nonsense treated as such, and remember that we have standards, that facts matter, that spin can be unspun.)

            Besides, really, do you actually know what is more apt to persuade people?  You might have a suspicion, or you might just think politeness trumps honest discourse, but do you really know?  You might think I don’t tread the line correctly, that I sacrifice friendliness for anger.  I respect your opinion, and in most aspects of my life I, too, think kindness paramount.  Surely I err, particularly online.  My intent is never to hurt, and apologies if I have.  

            That said, if people disregard the meat of my argument because I am rude in turn to someone who was rude to me…  Well, then, that is on them, and not me. 

            Sometimes–particularly these days, and particularly online–the best move is indeed to slap someone across the face and alienate them.  Some people need that; indeed, some deserve that.  

          • Barton February 15, 2020 (9:43 pm)

            While I admit the “we go high” motto hasn’t fared very well since 2016 I still hold out hope. Really I just hate that a platform (comments section) that could be such a strong tool to help people share ideas and brainstorm solutions usually devolves into people (including myself) getting more entrenched in their current positions and often because of an emotional reaction to the tone of comment posts rather than the content.  I do hear what you are saying.

        • Tsurly February 15, 2020 (8:47 am)

          WS: How would you suggest things be funded, while also not implementing an income tax?

  • WS Guy February 13, 2020 (9:05 pm)

    That is an incredible amount of money to waste on government and bad schools.  Incredible. 

    • BlairJ February 14, 2020 (11:19 am)

      So how much more would it cost to have good schools?

      • alki_2008 February 16, 2020 (2:57 pm)

        It’s not about how much money CAN be spent, but HOW the money already acquired IS spent. Governmental bodies need to be held more accountable to how they are spending the money we pay them. Just giving them more money doesn’t help if they don’t put that money towards effective and well-thought solutions.

    • Mertie February 16, 2020 (8:12 am)

      Exactly!  They decide how much we need to pay, send the bill.  Collect and talk about more and higher taxes everyday.  The Monies go to government employed people whom receive better benefits and higher wages than your standard worker.  I just got a 100.00 a month raise after 3 years and my tax bill just ate it up. 

  • Sue T. February 13, 2020 (10:32 pm)

    Don’t forget the extra $54 billion (with a B) going to Sound Transit expansions that may never directly serve West Seattle in our lifetimes.

  • Mj February 13, 2020 (10:50 pm)

    Instead of more taxes maybe government can better prioritize existing resources, education is the paramount duty of the State government.  The State spends vast sums on Health Care and high percentage of this cost is due to people eating junk food and not exercising.  If the State wants to tax something tax junk food and kill two birds with one stone!

    • Ice February 14, 2020 (7:15 am)

      I’m sorry, evidence please. Your post seems to indicate that you believe that the state spends more on insulin for type 2 diabetes than it does on education. You have to back up such bombastic claims with evidence.

  • AN February 14, 2020 (8:21 am)

    My property taxes have gone up over 800 per year for the past 2 years, this would be 3 years in a row! I really can’t afford to live here any more!As for the sound transit – remember when the city purchased land in west Seattle back in the 90’s for the monorail stations? They bought the park (before it was a park) on Alaska and 42nd and the land that the beverage place is located to use as stations, possible there were more lots! Our car tab’s went up to fund that project but it never happened and the city sold the lots and pocketed the money! Am I wrong????

  • Mj February 14, 2020 (9:34 am)

    Ice – online data I see the State spent $45.2 billion on Health care refn and funding for k-12 in the 2019-21 biennial budget is $27.3 billion public school spending

  • Mj February 14, 2020 (12:49 pm)

    Ice the data is available online, $45 billion health care and $27 billion k – 12.

    • KM February 14, 2020 (1:37 pm)

      MJ, the question is not the spend on health care, it’s that you blame junk food and lack of exercise for the costs, as if you can prove the cause and diagnosis for people who need health care. It’s wildly insensitive-at best. Good luck in the future.

  • Matt P February 14, 2020 (1:37 pm)

    Mine is down $83 this year.

  • Pay it local February 14, 2020 (6:52 pm)

    Make the tax come back locally. Higher cost for Seattle should mean proportional spending for Seattle. The rest of the State can cope with the missing taxes by taxing their residents locally.

  • 1994 February 14, 2020 (8:47 pm)

    Remember the MOVE Seattle transportation levy, $930 million approved by voters in Nov 2015… Seattle moving any better?

  • Tracey February 15, 2020 (7:03 am)

    Just checked the county site for my bill.  Up 10% from last year and 34% since 2017.  I am hoping people think twice before continuing to vote to approve more levies.  There has got to be alternate sources of funding.  Even if we believe the projects are necessary, it doesn’t mean that we approve of how they are being funded. 

  • AmandaK February 15, 2020 (8:16 am)

    You know what would help reduce property taxes?  Rolling back the tax breaks for the largest companies in our state….

    • alki_2008 February 16, 2020 (2:59 pm)

      Those tax breaks are why the companies come here, and they need those tax breaks to pay their employees, so their employees can pay the increased property taxes, and on and on the circle spins. /s

  • MJ February 15, 2020 (5:17 pm)

    KM I am not being insensitive, facts are facts!

  • Watch February 16, 2020 (3:50 pm)

    If you think there high now…with ST’s ok to use a funky valuation what’ll stop the gov’t from raiseing property value’s-and taxes with a “funky” valuation??

  • stephen February 18, 2020 (2:42 pm)

    got my bill in the mail today.  6% / $450 increase over last year. paying double what I was paying 5 years ago. $4 billion/year for the city and $x billion per year for the county. no justification to double tax collections within a 5 year period.

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