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

Related Articles
  1. Taxes

    Your Property Tax Assessment: What Does It Mean?

    Understanding your property taxes can protect you from financial shocks.
  2. Taxes

    This Is How Property Taxes Are Calculated

    Understanding how property taxes are calculated will help you avoid being overcharged.
  3. Taxes

    How to Reduce Your High Property Taxes

    Think your property taxes are too high? Here's some advice on how to get your home reassessed, using New Jersey property taxes as an example.
  4. Taxes

    5 State Tax Issues For When You Leave the Military

    When you're budgeting for post-military life, certain state tax issues need to be considered.
  5. Taxes

    Getting U.S. Tax Deductions On Foreign Real Estate

    If your home or second home is not in the United States, you can still get U.S. tax deductions. How many and what kind depends on whether you also rent it.
  6. Taxes

    Reducing Capital Gains Tax on Investment Property

    The 1031 exchange rules can help reduce or eliminate property gains taxes on investment property.
Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is the relationship between oil prices and inflation?

    Understand how the price of oil and inflation are often seen as being connected in a cause and effect relationship.
  2. What is the difference between a logarithmic price scale and a linear one?

    The interpretation of a stock chart can vary among different traders depending on the type of price scale used when viewing ...
  3. When short selling a stock, how long does a short seller have before covering?

    The lender of the shares in a short sale has the ability to request the shares be returned at any time, with minimal notice, ...
  4. What major is required to take the Series 7 examination?

    Find out what educational requirements are needed for the Series 7 exam. Learn about the new Securities Industry Essentials ...
Trading Center