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Tax Guides

Appealing Your Property Tax

Homeowner's Guide to Property Taxes

Open Space Taxation

Annual Tax Book

Washington Tax Structure

 

 
Homeowner's Guide to Property Taxes
  1. Property Tax History and Allocation
  2. Real Property and How it is Assessed
  3. Personal Property
  4. Calculating and Paying your Taxes
  5. Property Tax Relief and Exemption

2. Real Property and how it is Assessed:

Real property is land and any improvements, such as buildings, attached to the land. The assessor values real property using one or more of three professional appraisal methods:

  1. Market or sales comparison method uses sales to provide estimates of value for similar properties.
  2. Cost-approach method considers what it would cost to replace an existing structure with a similar one that serves the same purpose. The costing method is also used in new construction valuation.
  3. Income method is used primarily to value business property where the property tends to be worth its income - producing potential. Most residential property is valued by using the market or sales comparison method.

An individual sale does not automatically establish the value of a property. The assessor uses multiple sales to establish market value.

Revaluation:  Assessors must revalue real property at least once every four years.  In some counties, properties are revalued annually and are physically inspected at least once every six years.  After determining the value, the assessor mails property owners a "Change of Value Notice."  The notice states the new and the old values.  By comparing the two values, property owners can tell whether their property has increased or decreased in value.  The notice also breaks down the value between land and improvements.  Valuation notices are NOT tax bills.  An increase in value does not mean that next year's property taxes will increase at a proportionate rate.

Appeal Petition:  You must file your completed appeal petition with the County Board of Equalization by July 1 of the assessment year or within 30 days of when the change of value notice was mailed, whichever date is later. Appeal forms are available from the Clerk of the Board or the Assessor's Office.  Contact the Assessor's Office to review your valuation any time you have a question regarding your property value. Property owners can often settle disagreements at this level without filing a formal appeal.  If you are not satisfied, you may file a written appeal with the County Board of Equalization. The County Board is appointed to determine questions of value. It does not consider taxes.  To appeal a valuation to the County Board of Equalization, you must show that the assessor has erred in the appraisal. You must clearly show that the assessed value does not reflect market value. The evidence should consist of sales of comparable properties in your area or information on conditions not known to the assessor. You must supply adequate documentation to support your claim if your appeal is based on conditions of which the appraisers were not aware. For example, the land will not percolate or is not suitable for building. You may also request copies of comparable sales information the assessor used to value your property. You do not have to be represented by an attorney to appeal your property assessment.

You may appeal the County Board's decision to the State Board of Tax Appeals. Like the County Board, the State Board only considers questions of value.  Property owners can also pursue litigation in court.

Questions about appeal procedures can be directed to the County Board of Equalization or the Assessor's office.

Next: Personal Property