Huge Property Tax Increase, or Easier Dispute Process?

Haven’t seen this one mentioned on the other local real estate blogs, but it’s definitely of interest to anyone out there that already owns a home (or a home loan, as the case may be). Depending on who you believe, a new bill floating around down in Olympia may either help home owners reduce their property taxes, or saddle them with hundreds of millions more.

It’s an election-year, no-new-taxes, fiscal-responsibility legislative session, but that’s not stopping lawmakers from contemplating a bill that could ultimately saddle homeowners with the largest property tax increase in state history.

House Bill 2977 and Senate Bill 6517 would make it easier to dispute local property tax assessments — an easy sell in a region that has seen property taxes increase as real estate values have gone through the roof.

But King County Assessor Scott Noble said the real impact is buried beneath the stated good intentions, and it would amount to a tax break for big business paid for by the state’s homeowners, because the burden would simply shift.

“In our budget-based property tax system, reductions of valuations will produce tax shifts onto other taxpayers, and my experience with advocates from our large commercial taxpayers suggests a large increase of appeals and lawsuits from these property owners who have sizable resources,” Noble said in the e-mail.

Homeowners have historically been much less likely to appeal property value assessments because they have less to gain, he said.

If you’re a home buyer in Washington State, or intend to become one in the not-too-distant future, it would be to your benefit to pay attention to issues like this. Despite the supposed benefits of home buyers having “fixed payments” (vs. increasing rent), the ‘T’ in the PITI increases rather steadily, and is at the mercy of new legislation such as this, written by politicians that rarely have your budget in mind when making their decisions.

(Chris McGann, Seattle P-I, 01.21.2008)

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About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.