The stack of property taxes shown on this page may appear imposing, but it’s only a piece of the overall tax bite. It could become an even bigger chomp in the months ahead, depending on what the voters filling out their ballots decide is important to them.

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CAN we have it all?

That’s the question regional voters must ask themselves as tax measures and ideas swirl around this election season. And for a region pressured by increasingly unaffordable housing, voters should be especially attuned to measures that add to their property-tax bills.

Seattle voters will decide in the Aug. 2 primary election whether to replace the expiring Seattle Housing Levy with one that doubles the amount property taxpayers paid.

Here is the 2016 tax bill for a home with a median assessed value in Seattle of $480,000. If two new tax increases are approved this year, the tax bill would be this much more in 2017:

  • $120 for Sound Transit 3, or ST3, a 20-year, $54 billion regional transit project that would also raise the sales tax and the motor-vehicle excise tax, increasing the average household’s taxes by $400 a year.
  • $122 for the Seattle Housing Levy, on the Aug. 2 ballot. The levy would replace and expand the 2009 levy, which expires at the end of the year. It would provide $290 million over seven years for affordable housing.
  • And that’s not all
    Other charges are included on tax bills. The most common ones are for fire-district benefits, noxious-weed control and for the county conservation district. If a property is in an area with a separate fire district or has a large impervious surface (driveway or parking area), the amount can be substantial for fire services and for surface water management.

Sound Transit 3 explained

Nov. 8 ballot: Sound Transit 3 would add 62 miles of light rail to Everett, Tacoma, Redmond, Ballard and West Seattle, and would expand bus rapid transit on the I-405 corridor, plus other projects. Previous Sound Transit packages, which paid for light rail to Lynnwood, Overlake, and Des Moines and Kent and other projects, cost about $330 per household; those do not expire. The $54 billion Sound Transit 3 package adds an annual property tax of $25 per $100,000 of assessed value, a sales-tax increase of 50 cents per a $100 purchase and an annual car-tab tax of $80 per $10,000 of vehicle value. Calculate your household’s Sound Transit tax at:st.news/ST3calculator

In November, a whopping $54 billion request from Sound Transit, for the first time, adds property taxes to support expansion of the mass-transit system. Since 1996, the regional transportation authority has mostly tapped motor-vehicle excise and sales taxes.

Also in November, voters will be asked to impose a price on carbon for the first time. Initiative 732 would tax fossil fuels and offset the carbon charge with reductions in the sales tax, virtually eliminates the business and occupation tax and would give lower-income households tax rebates.

It’s particularly important for homeowners and renters chafing against property taxes to know what they already pay for and what’s coming. Seattle, for example, has passed a spree of levies to pay for more transit, schools, parks and prekindergarten education.

The biggest single portion is the state-schools property tax, which funds basic education. Next year, to comply with the state Supreme Court’s McCleary educating-funding ruling, the state Legislature will likely consider a significant increase in the state property tax, with some offsetting reduction of local school-district levies. The net effect could mean a disproportionate increase for property owners in urban areas with higher-valued property. How much is not clear.

But Sound Transit 3’s property-tax stream — if approved — could complicate this proposed solution to the McCleary problem and on the McCleary decision.

The stack of property taxes shown on this page may appear imposing, but it’s only a piece of the overall tax bite. It could become an even bigger chomp in the months ahead, depending on what the voters filling out their ballots decide is important to them.

So what’s most important to you? Housing? Mass transit? Education? Think it over, and then vote.