Property taxes are based on the following: a home appraiser perspective
Property taxes are based on the assessed value of a property. The assessed value is determined by the local government, usually through the county assessor’s office or a similar department, and takes into account factors such as the size and location of the property, as well as any improvements or renovations that have been made.
The tax rate, which is expressed as a percentage of the assessed value, is set by the local government and varies depending on the jurisdiction. Property owners are typically required to pay property taxes on an annual basis, although the specific timing and frequency of payments may vary.
It’s worth noting that property taxes are a major source of revenue for local governments, and are used to fund a wide range of services and infrastructure projects, including schools, roads, and public safety.
Here’s an overview of how the property tax system works:
Image from Skagit County Assessor’s Office
- Assessment: The County Assessor’s Office assesses the value of each property in the county, taking into account a variety of factors such as location, size, and improvements. This assessment is typically done once every four years, but can be done more frequently if there are significant changes to the property.
- Tax Rate: After the assessed value is determined, local governments such as cities, school districts, and the county itself set their tax rates based on their budget needs. The total tax rate is a combination of these rates and is expressed as a percentage of the assessed value.
- Calculation: To calculate the property tax bill for a particular property, the assessed value is multiplied by the total tax rate. The resulting amount is the property tax bill for that property for the year.
- Payment: Property taxes are generally due in two installments, one in April and one in October. Property owners can pay their taxes in full at the beginning of the year, or they can pay in installments. If property taxes are not paid, penalties and interest accrue.
The assessed value of a property can be appealed if a property owner believes it is inaccurate.
Additionally, property tax exemptions and deferrals may be available to certain property owners based on their circumstances, such as senior citizens or disabled individuals. In Washington state, property owners have the right to appeal their assessed value if they believe it is incorrect. Below are the steps you can take to appeal your assessed value:
Understand the process:
Before you begin the appeals process, it’s important to understand the rules and requirements for appeals in your county. You can find this information on the website of your county assessor’s office or by contacting them directly. Most smaller counties, including Island County, encourage homeowners to call or even meet your appraiser to discuss your assessed value. While larger counties, such as King County, offer a phone number for your inquiries.
To support your appeal, you will need to gather evidence that shows why you believe your assessed value is incorrect. This may include recent sales of comparable properties, a recent appraisal, excessive deterioration of your property, or other documentation that supports your claim. If you believe your assessment is significantly higher than the market value of your home, you can contact an appraiser to have an appraisal done for your appeal.
File an appeal:
The deadline to file an appeal is generally July 1st of the year in which the assessment was made, although this deadline may vary depending on the county. To file an appeal, you will need to complete a form provided by the county assessor’s office and submit it along with your evidence.
Attend a hearing:
Once your appeal is filed, you will be scheduled for a hearing with the county Board of Equalization or a similar body. At the hearing, you will present your evidence and argument as to why your assessed value is incorrect.
Receive a decision:
After the hearing, the Board of Equalization will issue a decision. If the decision is in your favor, your assessed value will be adjusted accordingly. If the decision is not in your favor, you may have the option to appeal further, depending on the rules in your county.
The appeals process can be complex, so it may be helpful to seek the advice of a real estate attorney or other professional who is familiar with the process specific to your situation.
If your appeal is successful and your assessed value is reduced, your property tax bill will likely be reduced as well, resulting in potential savings over the long term.
It’s worth considering the potential benefits of a successful appeal beyond the immediate savings on your property taxes. For example, a lower assessed value could make it easier to sell your property in the future or could help you qualify for a lower mortgage payment or insurance premium.
However, the amount of savings will vary depending on the extent of the reduction and the local tax rates in your area. On the other hand, if your appeal is not successful, you may not save money overall and may even incur additional costs associated with the appeals process, such as legal fees or other expenses.
Ultimately, the decision to appeal your assessed value should be based on a careful consideration of your specific circumstances, including the potential costs and benefits of the appeals process. It may be helpful to consult with a real estate professional or attorney who can provide guidance on this matter.
According to the Washington State Department of Revenue, the statewide success rate for appeals of assessed values in 2020 was approximately 50%.
This means that roughly half of all appeals resulted in a reduction in assessed value or other favorable outcome for the property owner.
The success rate of appeals for assessed value in Washington state varies depending on a variety of factors, such as the specific circumstances of the property in question, the strength of the evidence presented, and the effectiveness of the arguments made during the appeal.
Each appeal is unique. Success rates can vary widely by county and by type of property. For example, the success rate for appeals of commercial properties may be different from the success rate for appeals of residential properties. The appeals process can be time-consuming and may involve significant effort and expense, even if the appeal is ultimately successful.
Overall, the decision to appeal your assessed value should be based on a careful evaluation of the specific circumstances of your property and a realistic assessment of the likelihood of success. It may be helpful to consult with a real estate professional or attorney who can provide guidance on the appeals process and your chances of success.
Here are some times to consider appealing your assessed value:
Errors in the assessment process:
Assessed values are based on a number of factors, including the size and condition of the property, the local real estate market, and other factors. Errors in the assessment process, such as incorrect measurements or data entry errors, can result in inaccurate assessed values. If County has your square footage or site size listed as much larger than you know your home to be, then your assessed value is likely incorrect.
After a recent sale of a similar property:
If you are aware of a recent sale of a similar property in your area that sold for less than your assessed value, you may be able to use that as evidence in your appeal. Remember, you need to know about this sale in the small window of when your assessed value is released and the appeals deadline is. It’s also helpful to know when your County bases the assessed values. For example, Snohomish County uses sales from January.
After a natural disaster or economic downturn:
If your property has been impacted by a natural disaster or economic downturn that has lowered property values in your area, you may be able to appeal your assessed value based on the impact of these factors on the value of your property. For example, Skagit County has a form specifically for this purpose titled Taxpayer’s Claim for Reduction of Assessments Resulting from Destroyed Real or Personal Property or Loss of Value in a Declared Disaster Area and is requesting those affected by High Tide to submit the form via their website.