I’ve gotten a few questions lately about how to appeal property taxes. Most inquiries were from folks in King County, so I did a little research specific to King county…. and since I work a lot in Snohomish county, I checked out what the county had to say there, too. As a real estate agent, I’m not an expert on taxes… but I can tell you if the evaluation syncs up to market values. Valuation is supposed to be based on market values. I think during the hot market, tax evaluations had trouble keeping up with property values. I think they’ve caught up.
In fact, with budgets hit hard by lack of development (and related fees) and lower sales tax revenue, some municipalities seem to be trying to make up money by pushing values. (They wouldn’t do that would they? … Sorry, I’m feeling a little sarcastic today.)
REALTOR.org just posted an article on the subject so I thought I’d post a link to it and some of the more useful info I found for folks around our area.
So, is it time to appeal that tax bill? Check out the article: http://www.realtor.org/rmolaw_and_ethics/articles/2008/0811_law_taxes
On that page you’ll find a link to a ‘do it yourself property tax appeal’ application at http://www.propertytaxmagic.com/
King county provides some information on their website about disputing values, on these pages: http://www.metrokc.gov/Assessor/ValueDisputes.htm and http://www.metrokc.gov/appeals/. Their process is formal but straightforward.
In Snohomish county, the process seems a bit more informal… they ask you to call and talk to the county appraisers first http://www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Assessor/Services/FAQ/assessed_values.htm. If you can’t come to an agreement, then you appeal to the Board of Equalization: http://www1.co.snohomish.wa.us/Departments/Board_of_Equalization/
You can use Zillow or even county records to figure out recent sales values. I or another real estate agent can also help you find recent values. Or, you can hire a professional appraiser. And, there may be times that having a lawyer might help.