May 09, 2009
TaxSleuth.com - Taking the mystery out of your tax bill

Now there is a place citizens of Washington can go to see what goes into their property tax rate in one place. There are countless taxing districts - water districts, fire districts, school districts, and more, in addition to the obvious city, county and state that are happy to tax you and always need more. Their districts overlap, so its hard to know which ones your property is in.

Its also useful for comparing the property tax rates for different cities and even neighborhoods. It also has some other features I haven't explored yet.

TaxSleuth.com sponsored by Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

I was shocked by what I found. We looked at buying in a major Washington city, but noticed the tax rates seemed high. But looking up the total actual tax rates I find that our suburban city is one of the worst. This is a nonscientific sample of places that interest me.

The data: The number shown is the total property tax rate on the assessed value of the property as a per cent per year. 1.0 means you pay 1.0 per cent of the assessed value, i.e., $1,000 on $100,000 value every year.

Not that bad:

Mountlake Terrace .80
Bellevue .85
Lake Bay on Key Peninsula .86
Seattle .88

Even better:

Hunts Point .79%
Anacortes .75
Oak Harbor .70
Langley (Whidbey Island) .59


Much worse:

Tacoma 1.09
Lake Forest Park 1.13 in parts; 1.07 in other parts.
Shoreline 1.19 - But its not the worst.

Look up where you live and ask your elected officials why your tax rate higher than sleepy Anacortes. Of course the answer will be "It's Ron Sims' fault," since he has escaped.

Posted by Ron Hebron at May 09, 2009 07:07 PM | Email This
Comments
1. Interesting.

Here are some from the South Sound:

Shelton 1.43
Elma 1.34
McCleary 1.30
Lakewood 1.16
Centralia 1.13
Rainier 1.09
Steilacoom 1.02
Tumwater 1.01
Oakville .99
Olympia .97
Lacey .96
Yelm .93
Chehalis .92
Dupont .90
Tenino .87

Posted by: ap on May 9, 2009 08:11 PM
2. Here are some more lower rates:

Sequim .77
Battle Ground .75
Ryderwood .75
Quilcene .75
Bainbridge Island .74
Vader .71
Ridefield .69

Posted by: AP on May 9, 2009 08:25 PM
3. Not that I like to defend the municipalities who collect the taxes, but has anybody studied how close the assessments are to actual value? If a county has lower than market values in relation to other counties, the tax ratio is going to be higher. I don't know the answer, but it's hard to draw conclusions without that info.

Posted by: KM on May 9, 2009 09:19 PM
4. @3: Not that I like to defend the municipalities who collect the taxes, but has anybody studied how close the assessments are to actual value?

Assessments are typically undervalued, but not usually by an incredible amount. Makes sense when you think about it, since if it is overvalued by the assessor there is an incentive to challenge it.

Likewise, looking at just those rates are misleading. You get a sense of the revenue, but not of the relative property values or of what they're spending it on. Compare Anacortes and Shoreline all you like, but it's like comparing apples and oranges.

Posted by: demo kid on May 9, 2009 09:39 PM
5. Just glancing at the numbers and it looks like more expense places have lower rates and cheaper higher. Which makes sense. It costs roughly the same to run a school or fire department in a place where homes are worth 300k as in a place where they are worth a million. Now you usually have larger lots with more expensive homes so its not a straight line comparison, but I would think home value is the overriding factor in the rate differences.

Posted by: Giffy on May 9, 2009 09:53 PM
6. Sounds like a money racket to me. I bet the cashed up districts are run by Democrats, and a few token RINOs.

Posted by: BPT (Australia) on May 10, 2009 01:42 AM
7. Sounds like a money racket to me. I bet the cashed up districts are run by Democrats, and a few token RINOs.

Posted by: BPT (Australia) on May 10, 2009 01:42 AM
8. I agree, there are a lot of taxes that go into your property tax bill. However, water districts are not one of them. Water districts in this state are funded by exclusively by rates. Some projects may be funded by a ULID which is approved by the voters in that area. Some water districts are forced to collect taxes imposed by the cities they serve but no water district imposes it's own propety tax.

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