Letter to the Editor: Assessment Process Creates Property Tax Inequity

Bob style writes that assessment done every year serve only to justify hefty tax increases.

By now, most property owners have received their annual Valentine Day’s notice from the assessor.  Why would condo assessments decrease and single-family homes increase?  Don't both of them receive the same services and deserve to be treated the same? 

While investigating “Why”, I contacted the Assessor’s office.  I was surprised as to what I found.  

On the assessment rolls, why are condos considered commercial instead of residential? 

The assessment map shows Kirkland to be ruffly less than 10% of a larger district that should contain like properties without regard to location.  The map can be found at http://www.kingcounty.gov/Assessor/Reports/AreaReports/2012.aspx.  The assessment area is HUGE and includes mostly rural areas.

For the price of condos in rural areas to be considered the same in Kirkland is taking bureaucratic logic a bit too far.  Someone buying a condo outside of Kirkland in a rural area should not be the standard for determining assessed value in Kirkland. 

So I researched why.  I can't believe what I saw.  My property taxes for a single-family home went up 8.7%.  Others more or less.  Residential units in condos that surround me went down approximately 19%: some more, some less.  The amount of change for condos and single-family homes was inconsistent and unexplainable. So why didn't my taxes go down just like everyone else around me.  The taxes for every single-family homeowner in Kirkland should have gone down also.

Why do we assess every year when the law only requires an assessment every 6 years?  Assessing once in every 6 years, jurisdictions would still be allowed to increase property taxes by at least one percent per year plus new construction every year regardless of their assessed value.  It would reduce cost while at the same time give the taxpayer and regulatory agencies a greater degree of certainty without political gerrymandering.

However, the County and Cities want appraisals done every year at a greater expense to us in order for them to justify their tax increases. The assessor is cow-tailing to the interest of jurisdictions rather than serving the people who elected them.

For the single-family homes' property taxes to go up and condos' go down doesn't make a lot of sense, especially at various inconsistent rates. Also what doesn't make sense is for the assessor to classify condos as commercial properties instead of residential properties.

What we end up with is the assessor’s mutilated mutations that rile the taxpayers on Valentine's Day every year and a property tax notice that is not consistently applied to single-family homes and condos. 

The assessor needs to do a better job.

Thanks for listening.

Bob Style


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