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Thurston County residential property assessments are up. Will your taxes go up too?

Property tax assessments arrive for Thurston County landowners

Updated property values from the Thurston County Assessor’s Office landed in mailboxes this week. Property owners have until July 30 to dispute the assessed value.
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Updated property values from the Thurston County Assessor’s Office landed in mailboxes this week. Property owners have until July 30 to dispute the assessed value.

Updated property assessments from the Thurston County Assessor’s Office landed in mailboxes this week, giving homeowners first-hand evidence of the area’s rising property values.

The median increase for residential properties countywide was 5.1 percent, while those with Puget Sound waterfront saw a median increase of 11.3 percent.

The county updates assessed values every year using recent sales of similar properties in similar neighborhoods as well as other data. In addition, every year county staff inspect the outside of one-sixth of all properties to see what condition a property is in and record any improvements that may increase the value.

While everyone got new assessments, inspectors did in-person visits this year in the greater Lacey area.

Significant increases in assessed values are typically the result of home improvements or additions, said Thurston County Assessor Steven J. Drew.

This week’s notices list the assessed value as of Jan. 1, which will be used to calculate the property’s 2020 tax bill. An increased value doesn’t necessarily mean higher taxes, but your assessed value does determine your share of taxes within a taxing district.

Governments set the total amount of taxes they will levy, then that amount is divided up amongst property owners on a rate-per-$1,000 of property value.

Related: Search Thurston County employee salaries for 2018

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“The only time your taxes go up is when your value rises disproportionately” compared to other properties in the taxing district, Drew said.

Property owners have until July 30 to dispute an assessed value. Drew recommends people start by verifying their properties’ size, condition and other characteristics in the county’s online database.

If you believe your assessment does not reflect market value, call the Assessor’s Office at 360-867-2200 and discuss your concern with an appraiser. Sometimes a difference of opinion can be settled without filing a formal appeal, according to the Assessor’s website.

If you are still not satisfied, you may appeal the valuation to the Thurston County Board of Equalization, an independent body appointed to determine questions of value. The brochure “Appealing Your Property Assessment to the County Board of Equalization” is available for download.

The appeal process is informal and does not require an attorney. However, those who appeal are required to submit convincing evidence that the Assessor’s valuation of the property is incorrect.

If a property owner is not satisfied with the decision of the Board of Equalization, they may appeal to the Washington State Board of Tax Appeals.

Appeal forms are available for download or can be requested from and returned to the Thurston County Board of Equalization.

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Abby Spegman joined The Olympian in 2017. She covers the city of Olympia and a little bit of everything else. She previously worked at newspapers in Oregon, New Hampshire and Hawaii.

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