County property values rebound, taxes go up

King County residents got their property tax bills in February. County-wide, total property valuations are approaching pre-recession levels at $340.6 billion—in 2008, total property value was $341 billion—and are up 7.6 percent overall from 2013, which was $314.7 billion.

“Property values for King County have continued to show signs of strengthening as we emerge from the Great Recession,” said King County Assessor Lloyd Hara. “Of the 86 residential geographic areas in King County designated by the Department of Assessments, we saw a residential valuation decrease only in 10 areas for the 2013 assessment year.”

In some parts of King County, up to 50 percent of local 2014 property taxes might be voter-approved tax measures. In the majority of cases, an increase in property taxes is due to voter-approved property tax measures. These are typically school, fire, or other levies or bonds. Find out your tax levy rate and more property-related information by visiting eReal Property Search on the King County Assessor’s website at

2014 property taxes in King County have increased 5.64 percent overall, from $3.72 billion to $3.93 billion. However, your property tax increase will vary depending on where your property is located and what voter-approved levies were passed.

Countywide, voters approved a six-year temporary lid lift for the renewal of the Parks levy at a rate of $0.18 cents per $1,000 of all taxable assessed value that would generate $63 million in revenue, and a six-year renewal of the Emergency Medical services (EMS) levy at a rate of $0.335 cents or less per $1,000 of all taxable assessed value.

Some property owners who are seeing property values decline but property taxes increase may be wondering why that is.

Washington State operates under a revenue or “budget-based” property tax system in which taxing districts, such as counties, cities, ports, and fire, library, and school districts submit their annual adopted budgets or revenue requests to the assessor. The assessor then determines the taxing rate that is necessary to generate enough revenue to meet the adopted budgets. The tax rates are based on the value of residential, commercial, and personal property in each county, which is established by the assessors. Washington voters in 2001 initially approved Initiative-747, which imposed a 1 percent cap on revenue per year unless voters approve additional levies and bonds.


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