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Christopher S. Mulvaney, Esq.

HERE is a link to King County Property Tax information from the County website.

Tips for filing an appeal:

  1. File online using eAppeals!  This will allow you to check on the current status of your appeal at any time and allow you to instantly view appeal related documents sent to you by the Board of Equalization and the King County Assessor.
  2. Include all evidence with your appeal, or submit it as soon as possible.  An early submission will increase the possibility of receiving a reduction offer from the Assessor without having to attend a hearing.  Examples of useful types of evidence include but are not limited to:
    • Sales info of similar properties with sales dates close to the valuation date (January 1st)
    • Professional cost estimates to fix any structural defects or maintenance issues
    • Recorded documents that reference any easements or other restrictions on the property
    • Official communications or documentation from city, county, or an environmental agency confirming environmentally critical areas exist on the site, and/ or any development limitations affecting the property

In order to succeed on a valuation appeal you need to have at least two comparables from December to October of the previous year, since the valuation is based on January 1st, that are both at least 10% below the value of your home.  Comparables in December are given the most weight, with decreasing weight given for each month further away from the January 1st valuation date. That is why comparables not in the fourth quarter of the year have little value.

That means a match of:

type of home,

year built,

location,

square footage,

bedrooms,

bathrooms, and

condition

in the correct time period with a low enough value. 

This is very difficult to do because values are often slightly depressed in December. 

When you calculate the multiple used to translate market value into assessed value, even swings of tens of thousands of dollars don’t make that much difference in your tax bill. For example, if your property tax is .007 percent of assessed value then a decrease in assessed value of $20,000 would result in a reduction of tax of $140.

Divide your current tax amount by the assessed value to find your percentage of tax to calculate the amount of reduction in your tax bill resulting from the reduction in assessed value.

I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I have had a lot of clients try and fail to get a meaningful adjustment based on comps. 

UNDERSTAND THAT PROPERTY TAXES ARE BASED ON ASSESSED VALUE, WHICH IS OFTEN SUBSTANTIALLY BELOW MARKET PRICE. STRONG APPRECIATION YEAR AFTER YEAR HAS WIDENED THIS GAP SUCH THAT ASSESSED VALUE IS OFTEN LESS THAN 80% OF MARKET PRICE. THAT MEANS YOU HAVE HAVE TO HAVE TRULY COMPARABLE SALES WITHIN THE TIME FRAME THAT MATTERS THAT ARE MORE THAN 30% LOWER THAN THE ASSESSED VALUE OF YOUR HOME (ABOUT 2O% TO OVERCOME THE FACT THAT ASSESSED VALUE IS LESS THAN MARKET VALUE, AND ANOTHER 1O% TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN TAXES). THIS IS VERY UNLIKELY.

The more likely to succeed approach is something particular to the property such as pictures of structural damage, black mold, or a neighborhood change like a new light rail interfering with your property.

I spoke with the Assessor’s Office by phone and they explained how property taxes are set. It is counterintuitive. The Assessor starts with the budget target for the year. Then the Assessor looks at the Statutory constraints on increases in property tax which set a maximum percentage per year. Then the Assessor apportions tax according to assessed value (which has two parts – land and improvements). Assessed value is typically at least 10% under market value. That is why it is so difficult to find market value comparables less than assessed value.

What that means is that the Assessor has to hit the budget target. Any reduction in your taxes is an increase in someone else’s taxes. I hope that helps explain the challenge involved.

The fact that about 5,000 people per month move to King County and housing stock cannot accommodate that is why prices continue to rise. This is also why so many multi-family condominiums and apartments are being built.



Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mission:

To Always Be a Human Being First, and My Role Second. 

To First, Do No Harm, then to provide the best legal outcome,

smoothest process, best value, and to make a positive difference in the life of every client.

Christopher S. Mulvaney’s Mantra:

May I be filled with loving kindness for all life.

May I be safe from dangers within and without.

May I be healthy in body, mind, socially, and spiritually.

May I be at ease and happy, doing good in the world.

For more information about my practice in Bellevue, Washington, please consult my Blog.

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Mulvaney Law Offices, PLLC is located in Bellevue, Washington, representing estate planning & probate, chapter 7 and chapter 13 bankruptcy, and real estate transactions clients in:

  • Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, Issaquah, Sammamish, Maple Valley, Burien, SeaTac, and throughout King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.