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County assessor explains tax increases

by John Wilson
King County Assessor

It’s that time of year again: property tax statements have recently come out from King County. Taxes are going up, and it’s important to understand why, and it’s also important that we begin discussing some of the problems that are emerging with our property tax system.
Property taxes are complicated. King County’s job is to collect property taxes for the state, the county, the cities, and all of the school districts and other special purpose districts within the county. Generally, over half of property tax revenue goes to our schools.

Most people don’t realize that the fluctuating value of your property has less to do with changes in your tax bill than measures approved by voters. Decisions made by voters and elected officials, determine the total amount of tax to be collected in your area; the value of your property determines your share of that total amount.

Each local government can only increase property tax revenues by 1% per year – unless voters approve a special levy. Today, due to a lack of other options, governments are being forced to rely on special levies for basic operations.

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