The assessor’s office mailed change of value notices on November 1 with 2017 values for 2018 tax calculations. Assessed values represent 100% of market value as best determined by current market data as of January 1, 2017. Many properties increased in value, which reflects a rising market in San Juan County, but higher assessed values do not necessarily mean an equivalent increase in taxes.
Washington State uses a budget-based tax system, so the rate used to calculate taxes changes depending on assessed value. Tax rates decrease as values increase and increase as values decrease to meet the budget.
Taxing districts are limited to a 1% increase in their levy amount. Because of this limit, every parcel could double in value and taxes would only increase 1%. There is an additional amount allowed for new construction in the district, which is calculated using the amount of new construction and last year’s levy rate for the district.
The amount of 2018 taxes will not be known until all taxing districts have submitted their budgets and the assessor’s office has calculated the limits on each budget. Final rates will be known mid-January.
New voter-approved levies will increase taxes, and there are several new levies for 2018. The state legislature increased the state levy by approximately $.90 per $1,000 assessed value to satisfy the McCleary decision on public education funding, Orcas will see an increase from the school bond levies approved in Tuesday’s election, and Lopez will see an increase for the newly formed Lopez Hospital District.
The Assessor’s website has more detailed information and links to other descriptions of the assessment and taxing process. You are also encouraged to call the assessor’s office at 360-378-2172 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. with your questions.