In the last 12 months, Seattle voters have approved bills that have considerably increased property taxes. In Nov. 2015, we voted to fund the $930 million levy to Move Seattle. In August, we approved $290 million for a levy to help provide low-income housing. And the Nov. 2016 ballot seeks approval for yet another levy—this time for Sound Transit 3, which would add 62 miles of light rail to Everett, Tacoma, Redmond, Ballard and West Seattle, and would expand bus rapid transit on the I-405 corridor, plus other projects. Previous Sound Transit packages, which paid for light rail to Lynnwood, Overlake and Des Moines and Kent and other projects, cost about $330 per household; those do not expire. The $54 billion Sound Transit 3 package adds an annual property tax of $25 per $100,000 of assessed value, a sales-tax increase of 50 cents per $100 purchase and an annual car-tab tax of $80 per $10,000 of vehicle value.
In July, the Seattle Times ran an article titled “What’s Hiding in your Property-Tax Bill?” that provides a breakdown for where property taxes go. As the article notes, while some property taxes result from voter approvals, others do not require a direct public vote but are instead approved by state and local legislative bodies. According to that report, voter levies for housing, schools, transportation, parks and open spaces, library services, and many more amount to about $2,000 in property taxes on Seattle’s median assessed value home of $480,000. Approval of ST3 in Nov. would add $120 more per year to property taxes. Additional property taxes approved by state and local legislative bodies amount to about $2,609 on that same $480,000 home. The latter taxes fund state schools, the county government, Seattle’s general fund, emergency medical service, the Port of Seattle, the County flood zone, transportation, conservation and ferries. So, in total, property taxes today are roughly $4,614 (not counting the ST3 levy if it passes) for the median assessed house.
What is worth noting is that very few Leschi homes currently are assessed at a median $480,000. According to Zillow, in Sept. the median home value in Leschi was $780,500. For details see www.zillow.com/madrona-seattle-wa/home-values.
What does it all mean? Well, if you own a house in Leschi or Madrona or Garfield or Madison Valley, your home is probably assessed far higher than the $480,000 median value home. And that means your property taxes will be higher as well. To make that calculation, divide your home’s assessed value (found on the Official Property Value Notice you received earlier this year from the King Count Assessor) by the median value of $480,000. Then multiply that number by median taxes of $4,614. For example, if your home is assessed at Leschi’s $780,500, the result of dividing that number by the median of $480,000 is 1.626. Multiply 1.626 by $4,614 to arrive at your pre ST3 property taxes of $7502.56. To calculate the additional property tax ST3 would add to your home’s assessed value, visit http://projects.seattletimes.com/2016/local/st3-calculator/.
~Barbara Parker, Madrona News Editor