In February of each year, the County Treasurer sends out property tax statements. These bills are a culmination of the multiple taxing districts that each property lies within. In this month’s column, I will review the process for setting the various tax rates and highlight some of the impacts that North County residents saw on their 2020 property tax statements.

Property taxes are based on a multitude of factors including the taxing districts that a property is part of, the rates set by those various taxing districts, and the assessed value of the property. 

Taxing districts

Any one property can be part of many taxing districts. For example, I live in Arlington. I am part of the City of Arlington, Arlington School District, Snohomish County, Hospital District, and Sno-Isle Libraries District. Each of these districts has one or more tax levies that it collects. I also pay the state schools property tax which is broken down into two different collection amounts. All together, I pay toward 11 different levies or taxing authorities. The number of taxing authorities you pay toward can vary based on whether you live within a city’s limits, a hospital district, a fire district, etc. 

Levy amounts and rates

Each of the 11 taxes I pay into fall into either a “voted” or “non-voted” category. “Voted” amounts are things like certain school, fire, and library levies and bonds where the voters approved a levy amount. “Non-voted” amounts include the general levies collected by cities, counties, and other districts. These “non-voted” amounts are set by the legislative bodies of the taxing district. These bodies include City Councils, the County Council, Fire Districts’ Board of Commissioners, and the State Legislature. 

Assessed Property Value

The County Assessor and her staff assess all of the property parcels in the County for the purpose of determining tax amounts to be collected from each parcel. In levy based systems, each property pays their share of the property taxes based on the value of their property compared to the overall assessed value of all of the properties in the taxing district. This means that an increase in your assessed value does not necessarily mean that your property taxes for a certain district will go up. If all of the other properties in your district go up similarly, it may not change much. The exception to this is the new state schools levy based on the McCleary Decision. The State Legislature set the levy to be purely based on a dollar per thousand of assessed value. This means that your property taxes paid to the state go up proportionally to the increase in your assessed value. 

As you can see, there are many factors that go into the setting of property taxes. If you would like more information about your specific property taxes and the taxing districts you are part of, I encourage you to use the tool on the Assessor’s page at https://snohomishcountywa.gov/5167/Assessor

Nate Nehring is a member of the Snohomish County Council and represents District 1 which includes Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls, Marysville, Stanwood, and unincorporated north county. He can be reached by email at Nate.Nehring@snoco.org or by phone at 425-388-3494.

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