Property Taxes

In general, property taxes are the responsibility of the County Treasurer.  On this page, you will find some of the most commonly asked questions that our office receives regarding property taxes.  If you're not able to find the information you're looking for, please contact the Clark County Treasurer's Office.

To learn more about property taxes, you can consult the Washington State Department of Revenue "Homeowner's Guide to Property Tax" publication.

Property tax is a tax on property that the owner of the property is required to pay.  The tax is levied by the governing authority of the jurisdiction in which the property is located.  In Washington State, all real and personal property is subject to tax unless specifically exempted by law (e.g. household goods and personal effects).

In Clark County, property taxes are collected by the Treasurer's Office and distributed to the various taxing districts that provide services to the property owner.  These taxing districts include fire districts, school districts, port districts, cities, and the county among others.

Property tax was the first tax levied in the state of Washington.  Today, property tax accounts for about 30 percent of total state and local taxes. It continues to be the most important revenue source for public schools, fire protection, libraries, and parks and recreation.

The Assessor does not raise property values to increase taxes.  The amount of money collected in property taxes is determined by the individual taxing districts based on the cost of providing public services (roads, fire protection, schools, etc.). The budgets for the individual taxing districts, along with any special voter-approved levies help to determine the amount of taxes a property owner will pay.

The rules and procedures for property taxes are governed by the state to ensure consistency and equity statewide. Following these rules and procedures, the county assessor sets property values and the county treasurer collects property taxes. 

Yes. Washington’s property tax system has several built-in limitations.

  • Each taxing district has a maximum levy rate it may collect. This levy rate may be exceeded only when authorized by the voters of the district.
  • There is also a limit on the combined levy rate for all non-voted levies within an area.
  • The Washington Constitution limits the total of all regular non-voted levies to 1% of the property’s assessed value.
  • The most recent and highly-publicized limitation is the 1% cap on the annual growth in property tax budgets. An important distinction is that the 1% cap is on a jurisdiction’s property tax budget, not on taxes for individual properties. 

To learn more about the 1% limit, you may consult the Washington State Department of Revenue's "How the 1 Percent Property Tax Levy Limit Works" questions and answers page.

Individual and aggregate limits on levy rates, as well as the constitutional 1% levy limit, apply to individual properties. If one or a group of properties exceed these limits without voter approval, the levy rate will be reduced in each taxing districts until the limits are no longer exceeded. The order of reduction is prescribed by statute.

It seems intuitive that when property values go up, taxes will go up; and when property values go down, taxes will go down. Actually, the taxes you pay are determined by the taxing districts that provide you services, such as fire and police protection, schools, parks, and roads. When the costs of providing these services go up, so do the budgets of the taxing district…but not beyond the 1% growth allowed.

Another reason your property taxes may have increased is that your portion of the taxes collected has gone up. That is, you are paying a greater share of the taxes than you did in the previous year. This is caused by some properties changing values at a different rate or in a different direction than others.

Voter-approved special levies and bonds can have a significant influence on property taxes. These bonds and levies make up 25% to 35% of a typical combined levy rate and tax bill. Since they are voter-approved, they are not subject to the same limits as regular property tax levies, rates, and budgets. If a new levy is approved by voters, levy rates and taxes can rise dramatically. Conversely, if a levy fails, rates and taxes can drop significantly.

The formula for computing taxes and levy rates is a product of each taxing district’s budget divided by the total assessed value of the geographic area the district serves. This produces a levy rate, which is the amount of taxes that will be paid for each $1,000 of assessed value. The formula for determining a taxing district’s levy rate looks like this:

Taxing District Budget (limited to 1% growth) ÷ Taxing District Assessed Value = Levy Rate

In reviewing the formula, you will note that when assessed values rise and the taxing district budget is a fixed amount, the levy rate decreases. When assessed values fall and the taxing district budget is a fixed amount, the levy rate increases. In both cases, the levy rate is adjusted to generate adequate revenues to fund the taxing district’s budget.

Once the levy rates are established, the rate for the area in which a property resides is multiplied by the value of that individual property to establish the taxes owed. The formula for determining individual property taxes looks like this:

Property Assessed Value (divided by 1,000) x Levy Rate = Property Tax

The overall value of the taxing district may be reduced, even though some of the individual properties are not. This overall reduction causes the levy rate to increase, and for the individual property owner whose value did not change, taxes will increase.

Additional information about these programs can be found on the Assessor's Office website.

Clark County Assessor Peter Van Nortwick is available to speak at neighborhood meetings and to business groups. You can call us at 564.397.2391 or email at assessor@clark.wa.gov to schedule.

A property tax levy refers to an amount of money that is collected or “levied” against taxable property. A property tax levy rate is the amount of money for every $1,000 of assessed property value necessary to generate the levy amount. Each taxing district has its own levy and levy rate. The taxes you pay are a combination of the levy rates of all the overlapping taxing districts your property is within, multiplied by your assessed property value.