Levies and Property Tax

Budget-Based Levies

Most levies in Whatcom County are budget-based levies. This means each taxing district is responsible for creating a budget that reflects the funds they need to run their district. This budgeted amount can be thought of as a pie. The assessed value of a property in that district determines what piece of the pie they are responsible for paying.

For example, if there were four properties in a taxing district, each property has an assessed value of $500,000, and the budget for that taxing district is $1,000 then each property would pay $250 in taxes.

Four homes with the same assessed value pay the same amount of tax

If all the properties in the taxing district increased in assessed value to $600,000 then the tax amount for each property would stay the same. This is because each property’s assessed value is the same percentage of the total value of all the properties. An increase in property assessed value does not mean there will be an increase in property tax.

Example of four homes with the same increased assessed value paying the same amount in taxes

Below is an example if the properties in the taxing district were different values. Each property pays taxes in relation to what percentage of the value the property is in relation to the total value of all the properties in the taxing district.

Four houses with different assessed values pay a percentage of the budget in taxes

Lastly if the tax district budget increases, but the properties stay the same value, then the taxes owing for each property would increase. For example, if the four properties in this taxing district had a $500,000 assessed value each, but the district budget increased to $1,200 then each property would pay $300 in taxes.

Four houses with the same assessed value, but increase in budget, have the same increase in tax

Rate-Based Levies

In 2017, the legislature changed the state school levy calculation for taxes due in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 to rate based. This differs from the county’s local levies, which are on a budget-based system, in that the property tax is based on the assessed value of the property for this specific levy.

Beginning with taxes due in 2022, the state levy returns to a budget-based system with a maximum levy rate of $3.60 per $1,000 market value. The state levy will be capped at the lesser of the 1 percent growth factor or inflation, plus additional amounts for new construction and increases in the value of state assessed property.

For more information about the state school levy and how it is calculated please see these additional resources:

Additional Information