Posted on: June 4, 2020

Property Revaluation News

The Washington State Department of Revenue has approved the Assessor’s Office’s  Annual Real Property Revaluation program. Annually, 1/6th of the county will be physically inspected and the whole county will be statistically revalued. The current annual physical inspection area for revaluation in 2020, for property taxes in 2021, is Cycle Area 5 (see inspection area map, quick view, or detailed view). It includes portions of downtown Bellingham, Lettered Streets, Eldridge, Columbia, Sunnyland, Roosevelt, Geneva and Sudden Valley.

There are important items that are anticipated to create questions and concerns for Whatcom County Taxpayers. The general real estate market for the majority of real property has continued appreciating. The majority of assessed value changes demonstrate this activity similarly. Shifting amongst individual tax burdens, although present, is not the prevalent cause for property tax increases and decreases. (see below)

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: The 2017 Washington State Legislature passed Engrossed House Bill (EHB) 2242 and in 2019 passed 2SSB 5313, to meet the Washington State Supreme Court mandated obligation to fully fund basic education. The new law in addition to other education related requirements, makes changes which:

  • Increase property taxes imposed by the state. (see below)
  • Limit certain voter-approved property taxes imposed by school districts.
  • Facilitate state funding for certain school districts.

EHB 2242 temporarily changed the state property tax levy from a budget-based system to a frozen rate-based system and increased the tax rate to a new level for 4 consecutive years beginning in tax year 2018. In the first year, Whatcom County’s specific rate for State taxes due in 2018 increased from $ 2.23 to approximately $ 3.20 per thousand dollars of assessed value. This provided an approximate 55% increase (except Senior Citizen and Disabled Person exemption program participants) in the State Tax Dollar portion of your tax bill. In 2018, the Washington State Legislature amended the Bill. As a result, the State Tax Dollar portion rate dropped in Tax Year 2019, the second year, from $ 3.20 to approx. $ 2.76. This rate is returning back up to the first year (2018) rate level (approx. $3.20), for the following 2 years (2020, this tax year,  and 2021).
Individual Local School District Maintenance and Operation (Enrichment) Levies were additionally reduced in tax year 2019 to the lower of $1.50 of levy rate or $ 2,500 per pupil. 2SSB 5313 passed in the 2019 Legislature to increase the 2020 tax year maximum Enrichment Levy Rate up to $2.50. The resulting property tax 2020 tax year increases will be different amounts for each individual local school district. (see Annual Tax Book 2019-2020), (RCW 84.52.0531) For additional information on these laws:

The Tax Year Assessment Roll has been certified and delivered to the County Treasurer.

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