There are a number of reasons why people are flocking to Washington State. Fueled, in part, by a booming tech industry in Seattle, its largest city, the state has one of the fastest growing populations in the country. Not only is Washington home to a number of major companies, the state also touts one of the most diverse landscapes, from marine shorelines to its rich mix of urban and rural centers. The climate is also diverse, from dry in the interior parts of the state to the more mild and humid ares in the coastal regions. 

Taxes are also attractive. The state is among those that doesn't charge a personal income tax. It also lacks a corporate tax as well. That, combined with other tax factors, gives the state an average tax burden of 9.3%, according to Tax Foundation. This gives the state an average rating in terms of tax burden on its residents when compared to the rest of the nation. The same scenario applies to the state's property taxes, making home ownership there, relatively affordable. 

Average Property Taxes in Washington

Washington State's effective tax rate is below the national average. The most recent rate was noted at 1.06%, according to SmartAsset. That places the state in the 29th position among all 50 states and D.C. 

Pierce County registered the highest effective property tax rate at 1.24%. There, the average home was valued at $239,400 with an annual tax payment of $2,965. But when posted in dollar value, the highest taxes were paid by residents in Snohomish County, to the tune of $3,251 in a year. On the other side, San Juan County residents only paid 0.61% for a total of $2,781, making it the county with the lowest effective tax rate. San Juan's median home value was listed at $456,800 — the highest in the state. 

How Washington Property Taxes Are Calculated

Property taxes in Washington are based on two factors, including a property’s assessed value and the total tax rate. Appraisals are conducted every six years in each area in order to determine the assessed values. These combine both market data as well as physical inspections of all properties. The tax rate is derived from calculating by dividing the budget requirements of the taxing authority by the total of the assessed values. So if a total of the values is $250,000 and the authority needs $2,000 in revenue, the tax rate would be 0.8%. The tax rates are then applied to the assessed values.

How Washington Compares to Neighboring States

Washington State's property tax rate almost at par with that of Oregon, which charges 1.07%. Washington placed in 29th-place for lowest taxes, versus Oregon, who came in at 30th. Idaho boasts an effective property tax rate of 0.76%, which is 26% lower than Washington’s rate. Montana’s effective property tax rate of 0.85%, while California assesses property tax at an effective rate of 0.79%.

How Washington Compares to National Averages

Washington came in 23rd place among the 50 states for property taxes as a percentage of median income, according to the most recent data from Tax Foundation. According to WalletHub, the median property tax bill in Washington is $2,860.

Washington State's average effective tax rate was lower than the national average of 1.21%, according to SmartAsset. A home valued at $250,000 in Washington would result in an annual tax payment of $2,708, compared to $3,028 at the national level. 

Why Washington Property Taxes Are Higher Than the National Average

Washington does not assess a personal income tax. In addition, Washington is one of 25 states that does not assess property taxes on vehicles. Therefore, Washington places high importance on raising revenue by levying a slightly higher tax rate on property taxes. Property tax levies account for approximately 30% of the state’s total state and local revenue. However, Washington assesses a sales tax of 6.5% on the state, city and county levels. For some districts, this rate is approximately 10.4%; in King County, the current total tax rate, as of 2018, was 8.6%. Therefore, while Washington assesses sales and use taxes, the reason Washington has a higher property tax rate is due to the lack of a state income tax system.

The Bottom Line

Revenues collected from property taxes in Washington help fund local, county and state programs including fire protection, schools and libraries. Residents pay less than the national average, but do pay slightly more than those in neighboring states. But, what residents pay extra in property taxes, they may make up by not paying personal income or corporate taxes. 

Wyoming Property Tax Guide

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