‘Moderate’ increases in Pierce County property taxes

Mar 30th, 2022 | By | Category: Personal Finance/Consumers

While real estate values have surged in Pierce County, statutory limits on property tax rates are holding tax increases to modest levels in 2022, according to the county’s tax man.

“In recent years, tax bills fluctuated due to the Legislature and local school districts responding to the McCleary court decision on school funding,” said Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan. “Last year, taxes settled down in most areas, and this year we see moderate increases in most parts of Pierce County, even a decrease in one area.”

Property tax statements for 2022 were mailed the week of Feb. 14 to more than 180,000 owners of residential and commercial land and buildings in Pierce County. For homes where the tax is paid through an escrow account, statements were sent to the bank or mortgage company. Payment is due in two halves, by May 2 and Oct. 31.

Countywide, property taxes this year total $1.76 billion, a 5.3 percent increase over 2020. In addition to schools, the taxes pay for city and county government, fire districts, emergency medical services (EMS), parks, libraries, roads, Port of Tacoma, Sound Transit, and flood control.  Fees for the conservation district, noxious weed control and surface water are also included.

The state and local portions for schools add up to 60 percent of all property taxes in Pierce County. The cities and county, including the road district, comprise 20 percent, and fire and EMS districts equal 10.9 percent.

The annual tax is determined by multiplying property value (in thousands of dollars) by the combined rate of all taxing districts where the property is located.  Unless there is a vote of the people, most taxing districts are limited to receiving 101 percent of last year’s property tax revenue, plus the taxes resulting from new construction, Lonergan explained.

No new local school levies or bonds were approved by the voters in 2021, and school levies approved at the polls in February this year will take effect beginning next year.  Voters in five fire districts–East Pierce, Steilacoom, Key Peninsula, Ashford and Crystal Mountain–approved multi-year levy lid lifts or renewed EMS levies, resulting in small tax increases this year.

Combined property taxes rose the most this year in the Bethel and Franklin Pierce school districts, with the cost to the average homeowner increasing by 11 percent, or more than $450. The smallest tax increases were just over $100 for average-valued houses in Steilacoom, Milton and Buckley.

Tacoma, Puyallup, Edgewood and Eatonville tax bills went up about $300 for the average home, while homes in Lakewood and Sumner increased about $250. Gig Harbor, Fife and DuPont were up around $200 per home, Lonergan said.

Residents of the Orting School District fared best this year, with taxes on the average home reduced by $575, due to decreases in a school construction bond and fire district tax rates. But part of those savings are replaced by a new fire benefit charge which is calculated differently than taxes.

Additional  information is available on the assessor-treasurer’s website and at 253-798-6111.

 

61-PLUS or DISABLED? YOU MIGHT BE EXEMPT FROM PROPERTY TAXES

Property tax exemptions for seniors and disabled persons for 2022 are available to citizens who were at least 61 by the end of 2021 or retired because of a disability, with an income of $45,708 or less. Exemptions must be renewed once every six years unless there is a change in status or income.

The exemption freezes the value of a home as of Jan. 1 of the initial application year, exempts the property from all excess levies, and may exempt a portion of regular levies. Taxes are calculated on the lesser of market value or frozen value.

Application forms and information is available at 253-798-6111 and piercecountywa.gov/assessor-treasurer for Pierce County landowners, and at assessor.info@kingcounty.gov, 206-296-7300, and kingcounty.gov for King County landowners.

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