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About Property Taxes

Property taxes are one of the primary funding source for the public services provided by local government. Examples of local government services are schools, fire and EMT/Ambulance, county road maintenance, cities, ports, clean water, and libraries.  

While county assessors and treasurers administer property taxes, they do not determine the billing amount. County assessors value (assess) properties, and county treasurers collect the associated property taxes for the taxing districts.

Your property's physical location determines what boundary area is used to build your tax bill. To illustrate which services a homeowner pays for, each property tax bill individually lists the local government entity (taxing district) that provides services to that property, and the amount owed for that service per year.



Property Tax Formula

Washington State has a budget-based system of property taxation. There are three main components to the property tax:

  • Levy amount
  • Assessed value (AV)
  • Levy rate

Under the budget-based system, a taxing district establishes the amount of property tax revenue needed to fund their budget. The amount needed to fund the budget is called the levy amount. It is the total amount to be collected from the taxpayers by a taxing district.



Annual Property Taxes = 

[(Assessed Value/1,000) x Levy Rate] 

+ Special Assessments and Fees

By November 30 of each year, the amount of taxes to be levied by taxing districts are certified to the county assessor. The county assessor then calculates the levy rate necessary to raise that amount of revenue by dividing the total levy amount by the assessed value of taxable property in the district.

By law, this number is expressed in terms of a dollar rate per $1,000 of valuation. For example, a rate of $0.00025 is expressed as $0.25 per $1,000 of assessed value. (Source: MRSC)


The billing and collection of property taxes are the responsibilities of the county treasurer as prescribed in the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) under Title 84 - Property Taxes.  These statutes direct when property taxes are due, how payments can be made, and when interest, penalties, and fees are charged. To learn more about property tax laws click here.


RCW 84.04 - Definitions.

RCW 84.08 - General powers and duties of department of revenue.

RCW 84.09 - General provisions.

RCW 84.12 - Assessment and taxation of public utilities.

RCW 84.14 - New and rehabilitated multiple-unit dwellings in urban centers.

RCW 84.16 - Assessment and taxation of private car companies.

RCW 84.20 - Easements of public utilities.

RCW 84.26 - Historic property.

RCW 84.33 - Timber and forest lands.

RCW 84.34 - Open space, agricultural, timber lands --Current Use-- Conservation futures.

RCW 84.36 - Exemptions.

RCW 84.37 - Property tax deferral program.

RCW 84.38 - Deferral of special assessments and/or property taxes.

RCW 84.39 - Property tax exemption - Widows or widowers of veterans.

RCW 84.40 - Listing of property.

RCW 84.41 - Revaluation of property.

RCW 84.44 - Taxable situs.

RCW 84.48 - Equalization of assessments.

RCW 84.52 - Levy of taxes.

RCW 84.55 - Limitations upon regular property taxes.

RCW 84.56 - Collection of taxes.

RCW 84.60 - Lien of taxes.

RCW 84.64 - Lien foreclosure.

RCW 84.68 - Recovery of taxes paid or property sold for taxes.

RCW 84.69 - Refunds.

RCW 84.70 - Destroyed property - Abatement or refund.

RCW 84.72 - Federal payments in lieu of taxes.

RCW 84.98 - Construction.


The term "real property" for the purpose of taxation means the land, buildings, structures, improvements, and all standing timber (unless owned separately from the ownership of the land). RCW 84.04.090 provides the full definition of real property. 

Personal Property Taxes

Business Personal Property is different than Real Property, but it is assessed and taxed similarly. Business Personal Property is considered all furniture, fixtures, machinery, farm equipment and supplies owned, possessed, or controlled by an individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, LLC or association and used for business purposes. For a complete definition of personal property for tax purposes, see WAC 458-12-005 and RCW 84.04.080.