Assessor: David M. Thomas
Our local schools have two primary sources of financial support. The State School Levy is assessed to all property owners in the state and those funds fall under the jurisdiction of the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). Local school districts receive funds through an allocation process determined by OSPI. The legislative fix to the McCleary decision to adequately fund schools was to increase the State School Levy. [more]
Local school levies and bonds provide support at the community level for maintaining district operations, funding capital projects and technology. Part of the McCleary fix was to transfer financial support at the local level to the state. This was accomplished by placing a cap on the operations portion of local levies, which limited the revenue school districts receive from their community. The initial cap occurred in 2019 and placed the local funding for operations at $1.50 per $1,000 of value. This drastically cut local support by more than half for most local school districts. The legislature revised the cap to $2.50 for 2020 and beyond if approved by local voters. When local school district ballot measures to increase local levies are approved by voters, it allows greater local control to meet the educational needs of our community.
State School Levy Increase for 2020
After a significant reduction in 2019, citize ns of Skagit County will see a large jump in school taxes overall in 2020. For the State School levy, the amount collected in Skagit County will rise from $47,584,587 in 2019 to $61,338,416 in 2020, an overall increase of 29% in one year. [more]
This is the result of a return to an equalized $2.70 rate from the temporary reduction of $2.40 in 2019. In addition, local E&O (formerly M&O) levies were allowed to increase from $1.50 to $2.50 per thousand subject to voter approval.
The 2017 legislative session passed an additional state school levy to address insufficient state funding as determined in the court case known as the McCleary Decision. The original legislation established the State School Levy Part 2 to increase funding to a rate of $2.70 per $1,000 of value for a four-year period. That rate varies for each county, adjusted through the equalization process the Department of Revenue applies based on the assessment ratio for each county.
After seeing initial revenue above predictions from the new levy, the 2018 legislature passed a one-year reduction to $2.40 per $1,000 of value. The original legislation also limited local school levies for E&O beginning in 2019 to $1.50 per $1,000, which in some districts resulted in less than half their prior year, E&O funding. The changes dramatically reduced state and local school taxes in 2019.
Some local districts passed new E&O levies in 2019 and others have new levies on the ballot this year to recover some of the local support lost in 2019. With assessed values continuing to rise in 2019, the State Levy increase will greatly impact most taxpayers. The individual property amounts will vary depending on the assessed value difference from last year.
The Senior Citizen and Disabled Persons property tax exemption helps reduce your property tax liability. The qualifying criteria for the program is based on your age and/or disability, residency and income. [more]
The 2019 state legislature passed ESSB 5160, which changed the income thresholds specific to each county based on percentage of the median household income of the county. The residency requirement has also changed to a minimum of nine months out of the year. As a result, Skagit County’s new income limits are as shown below:
These new thresholds apply to 2019 income for tax relief in 2020. The new law provides adjustment to the income limits every five years. The Senior Citizen and Disabled property tax deferral program also has a new qualifying threshold of $48,912 (75% of median household income). For information on these tax relief programs, please see links to DOR publications on this site or call the Assessor’s Office at (360) 416-1780.
About the Assessor's Office
The assessor acts as an agent for the Washington State Department of Revenue and is responsible for administering the property tax system for the county. This process involves establishing real and personal property values for distributing taxes for each tax district, as well as reviewing each tax district’s budget request to assure all legal requirements and limitations are met. The assessor also administers and monitors compliance for recipients of tax benefit programs, such as the Senior Citizen and Disabled Exemption program and the various Current Use programs for properties used for agriculture, timber and open space.
This web site has been prepared to answer questions you might have about the property tax system in Skagit County. There are no unique rules or R.C.W.'s in Skagit County.
The property tax system is designed to treat all taxpayers equally across the State of Washington. My office works hard to treat everyone fairly and promptly. In these pages you will find a group of commonly asked questions about revaluations, the Board of Equalization, values, levies, and an assortment of useful information.
I welcome any comments or suggestions you may offer for improving this website to better serve the needs of the users and citizens of Skagit County.