While real estate values have surged in Pierce County, statutory limits on property tax rates are holding tax increases to modest levels this year. “In recent years, tax bills fluctuated due to the State Legislature and local school districts responding to the McCleary court decision on school funding,” Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan explained. “Last year taxes settled down in most areas, and this year we see moderate increases in most parts of Pierce County, even a decrease in one area.”
Property tax statements for 2022 are being mailed the week of February 14, 2022, to over 180,000 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 $1.76 billion, a 5.3% 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 60.2% of all property taxes in Pierce County. The cities and county, including the road district, add up to 20.5% and fire and EMS districts equal 10.9.%. 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. Unless there is a vote of the people, most taxing districts are limited to receiving 101% of last year’s property tax revenue, plus the taxes resulting from new construction.
No new local school levies or bonds were approved by the voters last year (2021) and school levies approved at the polls this week will take effect beginning next year (2023). Voters in five fire districts, East Pierce, Steilacoom, Key Peninsula, Ashford and Crystal Mountain, approved multi-year levy lid lifts or renewed EMS levies, resulting in small tax increases this year.
Combined property taxes rose the most this year in the Bethel and Franklin Pierce school districts, with the cost to the average homeowner increasing by 11%, or more than $450. The smallest tax increases were just over $100 for average-valued houses in Steilacoom, Milton and Buckley.
Tacoma, Puyallup, Edgewood and Eatonville tax bills went up by around $300 for the average home, while homes in Lakewood and Sumner increased about $250. Gig Harbor, Fife and DuPont were up around $200 per home.
Residents of the Orting School District fared best this year, with taxes on the average home reduced by $575, due to decreases in a school construction bond and fire district tax rates. However, a portion of these tax savings are replaced by a new Fire Benefit Charge which is calculated differently than taxes.
Property owners may view their tax statement here at the Assessor-Treasurer’s website, by clicking on the “Property Tax & Value Search button above and entering either their tax parcel number or their street address. Payment is due in two halves, by May 2 and November 1, 2022.
The service counter at the Pierce County Annex is now open 8:30 am-4:30 pm Mon-Fri to receive payments and issue receipts, after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions. Taxpayers with questions may also contact the Assessor-Treasurer staff by computer chat on this website or by calling (253) 798-6111.