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Sticker Shock in Washington State

by Scott Donald, Irvine, March 2018


Two of Washington State's most populous counties are being hit with the largest property tax increases in modern history. It’s the result of voter-approved tax hikes and a new statewide public school funding plan.


Tax Hikes Vary By City


Cities and towns throughout Spokane County and King County (Seattle) are experiencing higher property taxes. The largest increase is in the small town of Carnation in King County, where the average tax bill jumped over 31 percent. (See chart to the right.)


Voters approved several property tax increases for this year. In some parts of King County, as much as 50 percent of the property tax bill is the result of voter-approved measures.


School Funding

Highest WA Property Tax Hikes

  King County  


  Carnation 31.47%  
  Hunts Point 23.39%  
  Yarrow Point 23.26%  
  Milton 23.13%  
  Clyde Hill 22.94%  
  Spokane County    
  Cheney 20.26%  
  Airway Heights 17.87%  
  Fairfield 17.35%  
  Rockford 12.37%  
  Millwood 11.91%  


In addition to approved local approved local measures, the Washington State Legislature passed an additional property tax to increase funding for education. Previously, the state Supreme Court ordered Washington to make new investments in public schools. As a result, the Legislature added $1.01 per thousand dollars of assessed value in King County and $0.986 per thousand dollars of assessed value in Spokane County to fund the mandate known as the McCleary Plan.


Property owners have no control over tax levies approved by lawmakers and voters. The best method to control rising property taxes is to appeal an overstated valuation. To avoid penalties and interest, the first half property taxes must be paid or postmarked by April 30, 2018. The second half property taxes must be paid or postmarked by October 31, 2018.