Do we REALLY have to talk about taxes? YES WE DO!
Lucky you. Each and every year on February 14th, instead of a Valentines Day card, the King County Tax Assessors Office mails out your revised property tax and value statement. (sidebar – if you prefer to receive these statements electronically, sign up for that here)
Before we get into your taxes, payments and impacts on your mortgage, let’s first do a little Property Tax 101:
- The total amount of property taxes due for the entire county is a set amount. 50% of that amount is due to voter approved levies and bills.
- Each and every property in the county is reviewed by an assessor each year to determine “fair market value”. Fun fact – at least once every 6 years, an assessor makes an actual, physical visit to each property as a part of the assessment.
- The total amount of taxes due is distributed equally as a percentage across all of the combined values of every property.
- Example – If the total county taxes are $100,000 and the total value of all the homes in the county is $500,000,000, then each dollar worth of value would be responsible for paying $0.0002 of tax. If your home is worth $250,000, your share of the tax is $50, and if your home is worth $800,000, your share of the tax is $160. The county deems it fair to have the more expensive properties pay a larger part of the total tax due.
- The county made a funny video that explains it better than I did, watch it here.
Pay Attention to Your Tax Bill!
Many of us have chosen to have 1/12th of our property tax bill added on the total we pay for our mortgage each month, and then our mortgage servicer pays of property taxes for us on our behalf. Since we don’t actively pay the property tax bill, it is easy to not pay a lot of attention to it. Why your taxes matter:
- They may not be accurate. If you feel the county has terribly calculated the value of your home, you can appeal the valuation here.
- By understanding your taxes, you can be a smarter voter. The King County Assessors office created this Taxpayer Transparency website that allows you to see exactly what your tax dollars are paying for, and what your vote on current levies will do to your taxes.
- Your mortgage payment may go up! Property taxes went up 17% in 2018, and may go up again this year (depending on your homes value since the total amount of taxes that need to be collected in 2019 is down $50 million). When property taxes go up, the mortgage company needs to collect more money from you, therefore your mortgage payment goes up. If you are not paying attention to the statements from your mortgage company (say, if you have your payments on auto-pay like I do), then you could be underpaying your mortgage and even accidentally get into default status on your loan. We don’t want that to happen to any of you!
Keep an eye on those taxes!