Washington Property Taxes
Overview of Washington Property Taxes
In most states, property taxes are a critical source of revenue for local governments, and Washington is no different. The State of Washington and other local governments collect a total of $77 billion in revenue annually. From that total, $11 billion comes from property taxes, about about 14% of total revenue. Across Washington, the average property tax rate is 1.03%, placing it slightly below the national average of 1.06%. Washington property taxes pay for public schools, parks, and fire protection, and other critical public services.
How does that translate into how much homeowners pay? The average home value in Washington is $310,277, and Washington homeowners pay an average of $3,059 in property taxes. Homeowners pay $9.86 per $1000 of home value, or about 0.99% of home value.
If you are planning to buy a home in Washington and want to understand how much your property tax bill could potentially cost, check out our Washington Property Tax Tool to see what your bill would be.
Your property tax rate is calculated using the assessed values in a particular district and the local taxing authority's budget. Washington law requires county assessors to determined assessments by establishing each property’s fair market value, the amount of money an arm’s length buyer would be willing to pay for the said property. Once the local taxing authority determines how much revenue is required, it is applied to jurisdiction’s total assessment. If, for example, a jurisdiction’s total assessed value is $400,000 and the taxing authority requires $2,000, the property tax rate would be 0.5%.
Although Washington property taxes vary by counties across the state, one important constant are the government bodies administrating the property tax system. The county assessor is responsible for determining your home's assessed value while the county treasurer collects property taxes. Assessor’s offices will use a range of appraisal methods, including annual revaluations using market data and physical inspection of the property at least once in six years.
If you own a home in Washington, you are required to pay your taxes directly with the local county treasurer's office. There are 39 counties in total, and you should pay the taxes to the county treasurer's office where your home is located.
Homeowners can appeal their property tax bill if they believe their property has been overvalued. However, it is not possible to appeal the tax rates as they are determined by your local government.
Washington Property Tax Due Dates
When are property taxes due in Washington? The state requires homeowners to pay their Washington property taxes in two installments. The first installment is due by April 30th and covers January to June. Second installment property tax payments are due by October 31st and cover July to December. If the Washington property due date falls on a weekend or public holiday, they can be paid in the next business day. All taxable properties are assessed as of January 1st.
Taxes can be paid in advance but only for the second installment. The State of Washington prohibits county treasurers from collecting first half property tax payments before February 15th. This means homeowners can pay their Washington property taxes anywhere between February 15th and April 30th. The second installment can be paid any time between February 15th and October 31st. Failure to receive a tax statement mail doesn't exempt you from Washington's property taxes due dates.
If you are delinquent on your property taxes, the State of Washington allows local government to sell your home through a tax sale to recover the overdue property taxes and other penalties. The county authorities can initiate a foreclosure process once the property taxes owed are three years late. Fortunately for homeowners, a tax sale is only initiated if the homeowner doesn't respond to notices from the taxing authorities about the delinquent property taxes. Homeowners are therefore advised to pay their Washington property taxes on time to avoid losing their homes.
Washington Property Tax Exemptions
The State of Washington offers several property tax exemptions and deferrals to homeowners whose property is located within the state. Among them includes the senior exemption and homestead exemption.
Washington Homestead Exemption
If you own a home in Washington State that you use as your primary residence, the state exempts up to $125,000 of equity. If you have purchased an undeveloped property that you intend to construct a home, the homestead exemption spares you up to $15,000. However, you can only pick one of the two exemptions. Those who choose the unimproved property have to file a homestead declaration expressing their abandonment of the property they currently reside in and using the exemption as their future home.
Washington Senior Citizens Exemption
The senior exemption is available to taxpayers 61 years and older and retired due to a disability. Eligible homeowners can potentially reduce the amount of Washington property taxes. The amount of taxes reduced depends on the applicant's income, the residence's value, and the local levy rates. Qualifying homeowners must complete the complete the senior excemption application form and renew the exemption every six years as determined by the county assessor.
The State of Washington offers an exemption to unmarried widows or widowers of war veterans. The exemption comes in the form of a grant to help the beneficiary offset their Washington property taxes. To qualify, the veteran's surviving spouse has to have a disposable income not exceeding $40,000. They also need to own a primary residence in the state. Application forms and other details about this exemption can be found on the Washington Department of Revenue Website. Qualifying homeowners are still expected to file their taxes within the Washington property tax due dates.
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Washington
Homeowners who disagree with the county assessor's valuation of their home have a right to appeal. Washington's laws require county assessors to value property at 100% of its fair market value. You can communicate your valuation dispute to the county assessor's office. It is possible to solve the property valuation issues with the county assessor without having to appeal. However, homeowners are advised to preserve their appeal rights by filing an appeal with the County Board of Equalization.
Note that only the homeowner whose name and address appears on the assessment roll can file an appeal. However, the state allows you to appoint an authorized agent to file on your behalf.
The appeal process may vary from county to county, but it generally follows the following procedures:
- Obtain your assessment
- Determine if you are overassessed
- Complete forms needed to appeal
- File property tax appeal
- Prepare for hearing
- Attend hearing
- Appeal the decision
Each local goverment in Washington will have its own process for how to do each step. If you are are a current homeowner in Washington or are looking at buying a specific property in Washington, you can also use TaxProper to determine if you should consider appealing your property tax assessment and to handle the appeal process for you.
How to Appeal Your Property Taxes in Snohomish County
To demonstrate the above steps in detail, here is how to appeal your property taxes in Snohomish County, the third largest county in Washington State.
Obtain your assessment
Residents of Snohomish County are assessed by the County Assessor. Assessment notices are sent to all Snohomish county homeowners on June 30th. You can also check the Snohomish County Assessor's website or book an appointment with the office for a virtual meeting.
Determine if you are overassessed
To file a property tax appeal, homeowners are required to provide evidence that the assessor's valuation of their home doesn't reflect a fair market value. To ascertain whether you are over assessed, you can use TaxProper's search tool to examine other property sales similar to yours to determine your home's market value. You can also conduct a property summary search on Snohomish County's website.
Complete forms needed to appeal
If you disagree with the value placed on your home, you should contact the county assessor's office and request to talk to an appraiser. If there is no agreement, forms to complete the appeal can be obtained on the Snohomish County Board of Equalization's website
File property tax appeal
Residents of Snohomish County can file a property appeal by completing a Taxpayer Petition for Review of Property Valuation Determination form. Appeal forms can be found on the Snohomish County Board of Equalization's website. Note that a phone call or a letter is not accepted as a substitute for the form. The appeal should be filed within 60 days of receiving the change of value notice or by July 1st.
Prepare for hearing
You don't need an attorney to prepare for the appeal process in Snohomish County. However, you will need to present evidence disputing the county assessor's value. The evidence needs to be compelling enough and should include comparable sales and recent appraisal of your property. Keep in mind that the county assessor is presumed right by law. The burden of proof lies on the taxpayer.
The Snohomish County's Board of Equalization requires you to attend an appeal hearing. The hearing is an informal review, so no attorney is necessary. Both the homeowner and the county assessor can give oral and written evidence and even cross-examine each other.
Appeal the decision
If you are unsatisfied with the county board's decision, you can appeal to the Washington Board of Tax Appeals within 30 days of the County Board's decision.
Property Tax Information for Washington Counties
The table below provides county-level information about how property taxes work in each Washington county.
Want to learn more? Click the county links to learn more about a specific Washington county.
|County||Average Home Value||Average Tax Bill||Bill per $1,000|
|Grays Harbor County||$174,123||$1,710||$9.80|
|Pend Oreille County||$218,009||$1,341||$6.20|
|San Juan County||$584,908||$3,326||$5.70|
|Walla Walla County||$213,945||$2,281||$10.70|