KOMO News / Feb. 22, 2018
By Jennifer Sullivan


SEATTLE – It’s a plan you might never think would be endorsed by state lawmakers: don’t pay your entire property tax bill in full, at least for now.

Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah) and Sen. Dean Takko (D-Longview) say they have a plan to reduce skyrocketing property taxes – which in some places in the Puget Sound region have increased by 30 percent.

Neither senator could explain exactly how much each property owner could see reduced, but they suggest people pay their first tax installment due in April then wait to see what remedies the Legislature can offer before paying in full.

“Pay your April as you would normally then before your October payment is due it gives us time to recalculate it based on the new state rate, so your October payment will be substantially less than what you paid in April,” Mullet told KOMO in Olympia Thursday.

Takko, a former county assessor himself, explained that if people pay their property tax in full now, and the Legislature comes up with a way to reduce the balance they had after making the April payment, there will be no way for people to recoup that money.

Mullet, who lives in King County, said he’s heard the complaints from constituents and has seen a painful jump in his own taxes.

“That’s why I’m sponsoring the bill,” he said. “I can appreciate the misery everyone is going through.”

Mullet said Substitute Senate Bill 6614 needs support from five Republicans before it can be sent to the House. Officials in the Senate Republican caucus say they’ll likely support it, but wish the tax cuts were bigger.

The Democrats’ plan is to take $435 million destined for a rainy day fund and dedicate it to reducing property taxes.

The Republicans say there should be $1 billion used to reduce taxes. The Democrats counter that they can’t use that much money because there are state funding requirements for education and mental health.

“The hope this year us Democrats can do something to make sure that people aren’t being taxed out of their homes,” said Sen. Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond).

Dhingra is supporting legislation that would help seniors who are being forced from their homes because of high taxes. Senate Bill 6251 would change the eligibility requirements for senior property tax exemptions to base it on each county’s median household income.

But Mark Richards, who lives in Seattle’s Central District, said the assistance being offered by the Legislature isn’t enough.

Richards, 65, said he will be selling his house of more than 20 years and moving to California because he can no longer afford living in Seattle. His taxes had just jumped from $5,251 to $6,593.

Richards said he doesn’t qualify for senior property tax exemptions because he earns more than $50,000 per year working three jobs. Even if Dhingra’s legislation passes and lawmakers are able to slash people’s property taxes, it won’t be enough to get him to stay. He worries that taxes will keep climbing in the years to come and the city taxes keep growing.

“It’s much bigger than on the state level. It’s the city as well,” Richards said Thursday. “It doesn’t take into consideration the tax levies, the property tax levies, that Seattle is doing to take care of homeless, to take care of schooling to do a lot of different things.”