Assessor urges eligible homeowners to seek relief from property tax increases

The average property tax increase will be 18.18 percent on Mercer Island.

Last year, Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-Mercer Island) said she anticipated a “primal scream” when homeowners in Seattle and on the Eastside received their property tax bills in February.

On the Island, where the median home is valued at $1.2 million this year, the average property tax increase will be 18.18 percent, slightly higher than the 16.92 percent countywide.

King County Assessor John Wilson also predicted “sticker shock” when bills were sent out on Feb. 14, said Bailey Stober, communications director for the assessor’s office.

The increase resulted not just from rising property valuations in the area, but also from the state Legislature’s decision to fully fund K-12 education with a statewide property tax hike. That added $1.01 per $1,000 of assessed value in King County to their portion. On average, 57 percent of King County property taxes go to fund public schools.

Fears of the coming property tax bills appeared to have impacted the results of last Tuesday’s special election, especially in King County where, according to the assessor’s office, property owners were hit hardest. School levy votes in many communities were tighter than usual and in three districts failed.

Now that the vote is over and the bills are in the mail, the next question facing many lower-income owners in the area is “How do we pay?”

The assessor’s office has been trying to help people answer that question for the past few weeks. The State Department of Revenue does offer some assistance in the form of two tax benefit programs for senior citizens and the disabled — property tax exemptions and property tax deferrals — that are administered by local assessor’s offices.

Those who are at least 61 years old, own their home and have an income of less than $40,000 per year can qualify for property tax relief, which “freezes your property value and gives you some relief on levies,” Stober said.

Wilson’s office has been reaching out to seniors, veterans and disabled homeowners to make them aware of tax-exemption programs. His office is working in Olympia and with King County Executive Dow Constantine to create more tools for transparency around property taxes.

“We know that property taxes can be especially tough for those on fixed incomes,” Wilson said in a press release.

King County has also been supporting legislative efforts this session to increase the capacity of the exemption program, hoping to expand enrollment to more seniors, disabled veterans and disabled residents. HB 2597 and SB 6314 would allow local governments to exempt these groups from paying into certain levies. For example, in Seattle, seniors are not exempt from the low income housing levy, Stober said.

The assessor is also interested in increasing the $40,000 cap, which is “really low” in King County, Stober added.

“We’re sympathetic… and we will work in Olympia for relief for all taxpayers,” Stober said. “We don’t want to tax anyone out of their homes.”

Information on how to apply for an exemption, along with other property-assessment-related information, can be found at kingcounty.gov/assessor.

How will the property tax increase affect you? Share your story by emailing kmetzger@mi-reporter.com.

Graphic courtesy of King County

Graphic courtesy of King County

[flipp]

More in News

Despite concerns, homelessness authority moves toward final Seattle vote

Seattle’s homelessness committee aligned the city’s plan with King County’s.

King County’s current climate action plan was adopted in 2015 and has provided a blueprint for reducing emissions and preparing for climate change. File photo
King County approves environmental justice provision

An update to the King County climate action plan should include an… Continue reading

Homelessness authority approved by King County, awaits Seattle vote

The agreement would consolidate emergency services for people experiencing homelessness.

The King County Courthouse is located at 516 Third Ave. in downtown Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Council approves $600,000 to increase security at King County Courthouse

The funding will be split evenly between increasing deputies, security and social services.

Victims, law enforcement speak about King County Courthouse conditions

An entrance to the courthouse was closed after an assault.

Dean Quigley and Bob Harper, on behalf of the Mercer Island VFW Post 5670, present a $1,000 donation to MIYFS director Cynthia Goodwin and foundation president Jody Kris on Nov. 14. Photo courtesy of Bob Harper
VFW donation will help feed families during holiday season

Members of the VFW Post 5670 donated $1,000 in QFC food gift cards.

Courtesy photo 
                                Mercer Island Rotary Club members Bruce McAuley and Karolyn Streck volunteering as bell ringers for the Salvation Army.
Rotarians ring the bells

Find them collecting for Salvation Army Dec. 14 on Mercer Island.

The Aubrey Davis Park sign on a sunny fall day. Natalie DeFord / staff photo
Council adopts Aubrey Davis Park Master Plan

Vision for Mercer Island park’s future moves forward.

Rosenbaum wins by 40 votes in election recount

Mercer Island City Council Pos. 1 results certified Dec. 6.

Most Read