King County Assessor's Valuations Being Sent to Homeowners

Assessor Lloyd Hara speaking to community groups and will update the LFP Rotary on June 6; amnesty program for businesses also available

The King County Assessor's Office will be mailing out valuation notices through October to homeowners in King County, including Shoreline and Lake Forest Park.

Assessor Lloyd Hara recently spoke to the Shoreline Chamber of Commerce and Shoreline Noon Rotary and plans to speak to the Lake Forest Park Rotary, Wed. June 6 at 7 a.m.

Total valuations, which are set on Jan. 1 annually, have decreased from $330 billion to $319 billion as of Jan. 1, 2012 from the previous year.

The 2011 median assessed value in Shoreline was $276,000 down from $293,000 in 2010 or 5.8 percent.

However, your taxes may not change since the average percentage tax rate went up 4.8 percent in the district in 2011. That's because of voter-approved levies, for the Shoreline School District, City of Shoreline, Shoreline Fire District, King County Library System and more.

The Assessor’s Office assesses 700,000-plus residential and commercial properties, along with personal property used in business. It also sets the levy rate for local jurisdictions and oversees property exemption programs

Washington is one of two states that has a revenue-based system of taxation.

Taxing districts, such as fire, library and school districts, submit their annual adopted budgets to the Assessor who has the responsibility to determine the “levy rate” that is necessary to meet the adopted budgets.

For 2012 Property taxes: 53 Percent goes to schools, 27 percent goes to local governments, 18 percent goes to King County, and 2 percent goes to Port of Seattle.

The Assessor's outlook also shows that:

•Neighborhoods closer to Urban Core has retained value better than outlying areas of the County

•Foreclosure crisis driving up demand for rental properties

•New construction picking up

•Ran pilot project for electronic revaluation notices for large commercial accounts. Instant, No Paper, No Postage

•Field testing iPad 2 with Residential Appraisers. Lighter, longer battery life, built-in camera. Developing native iPad Application for field data collection. Cellular connectivity allows “Real Time” sync of GPS and data from and to the office. Greater mobility will increase productivity. Will save $250,000 dollars in hardware replacement costs 

•Amnesty for unreported business personal property taxes King County Council passes new ordinance aimed at increasing fairness and equity in personal property taxes; Penalties waived through July 1

“This amnesty program gives King County business owners an opportunity to comply with state law without incurring a penalty,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine.

The administration of business personal property in Washington State is accomplished through a self-reporting system. 

The ordinance adopted by the County Council waives the penalty if the businesses come forward by July 1 and list their personal property and pay any taxes due by September 1. The Washington State Legislature made this local-option personal property amnesty program available to counties this year through the adoption of HB 2149.

“We hope that any business owner that has unreported personal property will take advantage of this amnesty period. We also hope to use this amnesty ordinance as an opportunity to educate business owners about business personal property reporting requirements. Some business owners may not even know that they are supposed to pay taxes on business personal property,” Hara said.

Corporations are required to pay taxes on taxable personal property, including machinery, equipment, and supplies of businesses and farms, state-assessed commercial boats, and most operating property of public utilities. Items that are exempt include household goods, intangible personal property, and business inventories. Farm machinery is exempt from the state levy but subject to local levies.

Owners of business personal property are required to list the items, their acquisition cost, and the year acquired with the county assessor each year. The assessor then determines the current assessed value. The assessor can collect back taxes for up to three years on unreported personal property.

With the passage of this ordinance, personal property staff from the Assessor‟s Office will be visiting random businesses in-person to provide information about personal property taxes and to work with business owners not currently paying to come into compliance with the law.

This effort is aimed at increasing fairness and equity in property tax collection by helping to ensure that personal property taxes are paid by those that should be paying. This will distribute the tax burden more fairly, and will reduce the tax rate for all taxpayers, including those that are currently paying their personal property taxes as required by law. In addition, it will help to even the playing field for all businesses, as those that are not paying personal property taxes have a competitive advantage (more discretionary resources) than those that are.

The King County Assessor administers approximately 36,000 personal property accounts. These accounts total just under $18 billion in assessed value.

Business owners with questions about this personal property amnesty program should call 206-296-5126. The general number for the King County Assessor‟s

Office is 206-296-7300.



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