Property tax bills arriving soon will deliver tax hikes for King County homeowners ranging from 1.5% to 15%, depending on where they live

Among those at the low end: Algona, Mercer Island and Shoreline. In the double-digits: Tukwila, Sammamish, Kent and Covington. Seattle homeowners will see an average increase of about 7%.

Countywide, the average increase will be about 3%, which amounts to a third of the 9% jump in property values, according to King County Assessor John Wilson. 

That’s because voter-approved tax measures, such as school levies, are a bigger driver of property tax increases than rising values. More than half of property taxes collected this year in King County, 57%, will pay for K-12 schools, according to the assessor’s office.

The county’s assessments also lag the housing market. The taxes King County will collect this year are based on assessed values in January 2021.

Home prices have climbed steadily since the pandemic hit, driven by the combination of a shortage of homes for sale, low interest rates and, in the Seattle area, high incomes among tech workers. 

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King County home prices increased about 7% from 2019 to 2020 and 14% from 2020 to 2021, according to year-end data from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service. Around this time last year, King County property taxes increased by an average of 4%, with double-digit hikes in some areas.

“With a tight supply, we’ve seen prices and values tick upward significantly, in some parts of the county above double digits … It’s really quite extraordinary,” Assessor John Wilson said. “At the same time, we’re seeing in Seattle — in particular in downtown — some softening on the residential side in condos and in some of the downtown office space as landlords are finding it difficult to attract new tenants in the wake of the pandemic.”

Even so, Wilson said, “generally speaking we haven’t seen a huge COVID hit” to property values.

While most homeowners will see higher tax bills, the rate of property taxes will actually decline slightly because as values go up, the county can charge a lower tax rate to generate the same amount of revenue for schools, transit and other services.

Seniors and some people with disabilities can apply for a reduction in their property taxes, although the county has been slow to process applications since the start of the pandemic and an expansion in who is eligible for the reduction. Find more information about those programs on the King County Assessor’s website

For King County property owners, the deadline to pay half of any taxes due arrives May 2. The second payment must be made by Oct. 31. Owners can appeal property assessments on the King County Assessor’s website

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