The Whatcom County Assessor’s Office is responsible for annually updating assessed values for all real and taxable personal property in Whatcom County, and calculating levy rates for all taxing districts for property tax purposes.
The 2020 revaluation assessments are based on a January 1, 2020 date (July 31, 2020 for new construction), and is done using sales that occurred before those dates. This assessed value data is used to determine the amount of taxes owed in 2021. An increase in assessed value due to market appreciation is not the prevalent cause for property tax increases.
Whatcom County voters approved most taxing districts that had tax increases on the ballot in 2020, including: Lynden and Meridian school districts’ projects levies, Fire Districts 8 and 18, City of Bellingham- Transportation improvements. All school districts had replacement enrichment levies approved by voters; some were a decrease from 2020 rates.
In 2017, the Legislature passed EHB 2242, to meet the Washington State Supreme Court mandated obligation to fully fund basic education (also known as the McCleary decision). EHB 2242 temporarily changed the state property tax levy system and increased the tax rate to a new level for 4 consecutive years beginning in tax year 2018. 2021 is the fourth and final tax year of this rate-based program, unless extended by the legislature. The State Department of Revenue calculates the portion Whatcom County property owners will be responsible for and an estimated rate. The Assessor’s Office calculates the actual rate.
Additional information on the property tax impacts of EHB 2242 may be found on the Department of Revenue (www.dor.wa.gov) and Office of School Superintendent’s (www.k12.wa.us) websites.
The levy rates calculated for individual taxing districts generally decreased as a result of higher assessed values. However, levy rates did increase for the state school levy and voter-approved measures impacting the total levy rate. The average levy rate in 2020 was 10.24481 per thousand dollars of assessed value, while the 2021 average levy rate decreased to 10.01204.
The total taxable assessed value in Whatcom County increased from $35.56 billion in 2020 to $38.33 billion in 2021, for tax purposes.
According to the County Treasurer’s Office, they will begin mailing tax statements the last week of February. Property tax payment information for 2021 is also available on-line at the Treasurer’s office website: https://www.whatcomcounty.us/331/Treasurer
Property taxes to be collected this year by all taxing districts in Whatcom County will show an overall 4.2% increase over last year. Property taxes will total $386,098,169 in 2021, up $15.4 million over 2020’s $370,655,704 that was levied for all taxing districts.
Property tax relief is available for limited income senior citizen and disabled persons. In 2019, changes to the program were made by legislation which increased the disposable income qualifying threshold for Whatcom County residents to $42,043. Participants must live in the home as their primary residence, including the year prior to the first tax year the reduction is applied for.
Please see our annual tax book webpage for additional information.