Home buyers and homeowners tend to have a lot of questions and confusion when it comes to property taxes. It’s easy to understand why. Every state has its own method for assessing property taxes, and the individual rates can vary from one county to the next.
We hope to clear up some of this confusion with our fact sheet on Seattle-area property taxes. The information below applies to all of King County, Washington, including Seattle and surrounding cities.
How Much Are Property Taxes in Seattle and King County?
In the state of Washington, property taxes are assessed, levied and collected by individual counties as opposed to cities. So, if you buy a house anywhere in the Seattle area, you will likely pay taxes for King County, Washington.
Real estate property taxes in our area rose over the past year or so, partly due to voter-approved measures. As a February 2023 report from King5.com stated: “According to the King County Tax Assessor, the county’s aggregate property tax will increase by 6.4% in 2023, largely citing voter-approved levies for the increase.”
So, how much are property taxes in the Seattle area?
As of 2023, the average property tax rate for King County, Washington comes to roughly 1% of the home’s value. This is equivalent to $10 per every $1,000 of value. For example, a homeowner with a home valued at $600,000 might pay somewhere around $6,000 in residential property taxes each year.
In this context, the home “value” is the one determined by the King County tax assessor’s office, as opposed to the actual real estate market value.
How Are Property Taxes Calculated?
The following information was adapted from the “Homeowner’s Guide to Property Taxes,” published by the Washington State Department of Revenue. We pulled out some of the relevant parts of this guide and put them in our own words, to help you make sense of it all.
In the state of Washington, property taxes are calculated based on (A) the assessed value of your home and (B) the rate set by the local government. The assessed value of your property is determined by the King County Assessor’s Office. The tax rate is set by local governments such as the City of Seattle, King County, and the State of Washington.
The assessed value of your property is the most significant factor that affects your property taxes. It’s determined by the King County Assessor’s Office and based on factors including the location, size, age, and condition of your property.
The King County Assessor’s Office assesses these taxes annually and usually mails out tax bills during the month of February. The payment due date can vary from one year to the next, so this is something you’ll need to keep track of. The due date will be clearly stated on your tax bill.
If you have a mortgage loan on your house, your monthly payments will probably include your property taxes. If you don’t have a mortgage, you will have to pay the tax office directly.
What Are the Revenues Used for?
Like most counties across the country, King County uses property taxes to fund essential services such as schools, roads, and public safety.
The state’s guide to property taxes mentioned earlier included a graph showing the percentage of taxes that goes toward different uses. Local schools use up the biggest percentage of property tax in the Seattle area and King County as a whole.
The rest of the revenue goes toward state schools, city and county offices and services, firefighters, and other uses. Local and state schools combined use up roughly 56% of all residential real estate property taxes generated in King County.
Are There Any Exemptions or Credits Available?
There are several property tax exemptions and credits available for homeowners in the Seattle area. The most common exemptions include senior citizen, disabled veteran, and low-income homeowner exemptions.
Additionally, King County offers property tax deferral programs for seniors and disabled homeowners who meet certain income and equity requirements.
Important Takeaways for Homeowners
- In the state of Washington, property taxes fund essential services such as schools, roads, and public safety.
- Homeowners can view and pay their taxes online, through the King County website.
- Home buyers who recently purchased a property may receive a supplemental tax bill for the current year.
- King County offers a property tax relief program that provides assistance to income-eligible individuals and families.
- Senior citizens and disabled homeowners may be eligible for property tax exemptions or deferrals.
- Seattle-area homeowners who have questions or need assistance with their property taxes can contact the King County Treasury Office.
- Homeowners who believe their tax assessment is too high can request a property value review through the county assessor’s office.