While real estate values continue to surge in Pierce County, statutory limits on property tax rates are holding tax increases to modest levels this year. “For the past three years, tax bills fluctuated due to the McCleary court decision on school funding,” Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan explained. “This year they’ve settled down in most areas, even decreasing in a couple districts.”
Property tax statements for 2021 are being mailed this week to the owners of residential and commercial land and buildings in Pierce County. For homes where the tax is paid through an escrow account, the statement is sent to the bank or mortgage company.
Countywide, property taxes billed this year total $1.67 billion, a 4.8% increase over 2020. In addition to schools, property taxes pay for city and county government, fire districts, emergency medical service, parks, libraries, roads, Port of Tacoma, Sound Transit and flood control. Fees for conservation, noxious weed control and surface water are also included on the property tax statement.
The state and local portions for schools add up to 59.6% of all property taxes in Pierce County. The cities and county, including the road district, add up to 21% and fire districts equal 11%. Together, these make up over 90% of Pierce County’s property tax.
The annual tax is determined by multiplying property value (in thousands of dollars) by the combined rate of all taxing districts where the property is located.
Last year (2020) saw hefty tax increases for most property owners, due to the Washington State Legislature’s increase in the maximum local school district Enrichment Levy, from $1.50 to $2.50 per $1,000 of property value.
Voters in two additional school districts, Puyallup and White River, approved supplemental enrichment levies taking effect this year, resulting in tax increases of $350 and $500 respectively, on the average home. Tacoma residents will experience the smallest increase, only $40 on the average home, largely due to a reduced Metropolitan Park District construction bond.
Residents of the Orting School District fared best this year, with taxes on the average home reduced by $170, due to decreased school levy rates. Tax rates also dropped in the Graham Fire District, to be replaced by a new Fire Benefit Charge which is calculated differently than taxes.
Property owners may view their tax statement online at the Assessor-Treasurer’s website, piercecountywa.gov/atr, by entering either their tax parcel number or their street address. Payment is due in two halves, by April 30 and November 1, 2021.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the service counter at the Pierce County Annex remains closed, but taxpayers with questions may contact the Assessor-Treasurer staff by computer chat on the website or by calling (253) 798-6111.