OLYMPIA – The Senate today approved an approximately $400 million property tax cut, giving homeowners a break on their 2019 tax bill to offset the large increase in this year’s taxes that was passed in 2017 to fund K-12 education.
Senate Bill 6614, sponsored by Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, would use some $400 million in projected revenue from Washington’s booming economy to roll back about 40 percent of this year’s state property tax increase while continuing to fully fund K-12 education.
Specifically, it reduces the state property tax rate in 2019 by 30 cents, from $2.70 per $1,000 of assessed value to $2.40.
The 2018 tax increase resulted from a compromise deal lawmakers made last year to address the state Supreme Court’s McCleary ruling that the state unconstitutionally passed its responsibility to fund K-12 education on to local school districts. The deal essentially increased the state property tax rate starting in 2018 and reduced local levy rates starting in 2019, leaving taxpayers on the hook to pay both this year.
“If we had known last year what we learned last month – that projected revenue is much greater than expected – we would have waited to increase the state rate and decrease local rates at the same time, instead of putting so much on taxpayers in 2018,” Mullet said. “This bill is an attempt to return a portion of the 2018 property tax increase back to the residents of Washington.”
Mullet said he would have preferred to apply the cut to this year’s property tax bills. But doing so would be complicated, he said, given that bills due in April have already been sent to taxpayers. He also noted that some 70,000 Washingtonians have already paid their 2018 bill in full and Washington’s constitution bars the state from giving them a refund.
The Senate approved the bill 25-23. It now goes to the House of Representatives.