King County News Release - Property Taxes

2/13/2020

Property tax bills coming: Changes in Education Funding Leads to Higher Property Taxes in 2020

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:

    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • City of Medina: 6-year Public Safety levy lid lift increasing the city’s regular property tax levy by $0.20/$1,000 to a maximum total rate of $0.83712/$1,000 in the first year, setting a 5% limit factor in years 2021-2025. Seniors/disabled taxpayers in the Senior Exemption Program are exempt from paying this lid lift.
    • Fire District 62 (Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority) – Six-year lid lift to restore the property tax levy to $1.00/$1,000.
    • Two (Seattle and Renton) of the 20 school districts in King County passed Enhancement levies.
    • Three school districts (Seattle and Lake Washington) passed six-year Capital Projects levies, totaling $1.52 billion over six years. Skykomish school district passed a 4-year capital projects levy for a total of $300,000 ($75,000 each year).
    • Renton School District passed an unlimited bond for $249.6m over 21 years.
    • Northshore Park & Recreation Service Area – Six-year property tax levy at a rate $0.04/$1,000 or less for each of the six years.
    • Vashon Park District – Four-year property tax levy at a rate not to exceed $0.45/$1,000 for each of the four years.

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 kingcounty.gov/assessor.

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.