2019 is a better year for many Pierce County property taxpayers
Property tax statements for 2019 are being mailed this week to the owners of residential and commercial land and buildings in Pierce County. For homes where the tax is paid through an escrow account, the statement is sent to the bank or mortgage company.
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. School funding, local and state, accounts for over half of the Property Tax. So, changes in the school formula can make quite a difference.
Last year (2018) saw tax increases for nearly every property owner, due to the Washington State Legislature’s addition of a second State School Levy, to meet the court-ordered state funding of K-12 education. This year, the second half of that equation takes effect—reduction of local school operating levies (now called Enrichment Levies) to no more than $1.50 per $1,000 of property value.
In 2018, these voted local levies in Pierce County’s seventeen school districts ranged from $1.98 per thousand in the Peninsula School District up to $5.45 in the Carbonado District with most other districts in the $3 to $4 range. So, even though the value of most properties increased significantly in the past year, many taxpayers will see a reduction in their property tax due for 2019.
Voters in several school districts passed capital project levies taking effect in 2019, which will reduce the net amount of savings—and the Fife District will see an increase in the total school tax rate due to a new construction bond levy. Also, this year only, the Second State School Levy has been reduced by 30 cents per $1,000 value, resulting in some additional savings for taxpayers.
(NOTE: Attached is a spreadsheet showing the 2018 to 2019 net effect of higher average property values multiplied by lower total tax rates, in each school district. The result is shown as both a reduced tax amount for the average home and the percentage reduction from the previous year. In the case of the Fife School District there is a net increase; for the Peninsula District there is virtually no change.)
In addition to schools, property taxes pay for City and County government, fire districts, EMS, parks, libraries, the Port of Tacoma, Sound Transit and flood control. This year the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer will collect $1.35 Billion to be divided among these services. Fees for conservation, noxious weed control and surface water are also included on the property tax statement.
(NOTE: Attached is a pie chart showing the percentages of total 2019 property taxes in Pierce County that will go to various services of local government. The state and local portions for Schools add up to 53.4%. The Cities and County including Road District add up to 24.6% and Fire Districts equal 12%. Together, these make up 90% of Pierce County’s property tax.)
Property owners may view their tax statement online at the Assessor-Treasurer’s website, piercecountywa.gov/atr, by entering either their tax parcel number or their street address. Payment is due in two halves, by April 30 and Oct. 31, 2019.