The King County Assessor’s Office is making a bet this year that if you knew more about your house, you’d be less likely to appeal its taxable value. The office fields thousands of appeals every year from homeowners who file for the chance to argue that county assessors have over-appraised their house.
About two-thirds of them lose, and many get just a small adjustment to their taxable value, resulting in a tiny savings. All those appeals use up a lot of county time.
A new county website, www.kingcounty.gov/eappeals, lets residents search for their value by address. From there, they can look at all the information tax assessors used to value their home — from square footage to improvements to comparable homes in the neighborhood. (When searching by address, follow the example and don’t use periods after abbreviated terms like “Ave” or “S”.)
Previously, homeowners who wanted to appeal were on their own to do research. Then they had to print out the forms, print photos and affix them to pieces of paper, and mail two copies of everything to the review board and the assessor.
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“We’re trying to provide an opportunity to allow citizens to take a look and to see whether or not they’ve been fairly valued each year,” said Assessor Lloyd Hara. “We’re there basically to help you, not just simply to tax you.”
The site includes a tool to see how much savings are at stake. If your home’s value is off, but only by $10,000, is that enough to be worth the effort of an appeal?
You can review your home’s value history and how much you’ve paid in taxes. If you decide to challenge the assessment, you can appeal it online. That’s new, too. The assessor’s office will email you a hearing date to make your case to the King County Board of Equalization.
Appeals are down since Hara took office as home prices were falling. In 2009, he said, more than 13,000 people appealed; in 2012, fewer than 5,000.
Tax assessments for 2013 are in the mail to King County residents.
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @EmilyHeffter