The Washington State Constitution limits the annual rate of property taxes to be imposed to 1% of property’s fair value. In Washington, 36% of property taxes are distributed for use by the state, while 59% are distributed to local districts. Local counties receive 18% of all property taxes to use within their general funds, while cities receive 33.75% of the assessment. The remainder of the local district portion of the property taxes is distributed to cemeteries, hospitals, flood control, airports and other districts. Washington uses 5% of its levied property taxes for land preservation, medical services, affordable housing, parks, criminal justice and ferry services.

Any county in Washington may raise its general fund levy rate $2.475 per $1,000 of assessed value. Cities with a Fireman’s Pension Fund assess an additional $0.225 per $1,000 of assessed value. Counties with a fire district or library district can be assessed an additional $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Average Property Taxes By County

King County assesses the highest property taxes in the state of Washington. The median assessment in 2015 was $3,572. Other counties on the western side of the state typically assess higher property taxes as well. Examples include Snohomish County’s average property tax of $3,009, Pierce County’s average property tax of $2,759 and Kitsap County’s average property tax of $2,516. The lowest average property tax assessment occurs in Ferry County, where the average tax is $941 per year. Garfield County comes in as the second-lowest county, with an average annual bill of $1,135.

Some counties in Washington assess a bond or local option levies that increase the assessment. For example, property owners within the Beaverton School District are assessed an extra $2.11 per $1,000 of assessed value for an education bond, while the levy supporting the Cornelius Rural Fire District increases an individual’s property taxes 69 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

How Washington Compares to Neighboring States

Washington State has an unfavorable property tax rate when compared to neighboring states. Oregon assesses property taxes at a similar rate; it is tied with Washington for the 27th-lowest effective real estate tax rate. Idaho boasts an effective property tax rate of 0.77%, which is 28% lower than Washington’s rate. Montana’s effective property tax rate of 0.88% is 19% lower than Washington’s, while California assesses property tax at an effective rate of 0.81%.

How Washington Compares to National Averages

In 2016, Washington had the 11th highest rate of the 50 states for property taxes as a percentage of median income. On average, the property tax assessment in Washington reflects approximately 3.7% of a single individual’s income. Washington has the 12th highest median property tax assessment in the nation. The median property tax bill in Washington is $2,631. Finally, Washington comes in 23rd out of 50, when comparing the property tax assessment to the property value. Washington’s average property taxes are approximately 1.08% of the property’s value.

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 and use tax on the state, city and county levels. For some districts, this rate is approximately 10%; in King County, the current total tax rate, as of April 30, 2016, was 9.6%. 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.

Wyoming Property Tax Guide

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