Levy Limits & Taxing Districts
Setting the Tax Amount
Every year the directors, councils, or commissioners of all taxing districts meet in open session to determine the amount of taxes to be collected the following year. Public questions or comments are welcomed during this process. Once the budget has been adopted, the amount of taxes to be collected is certified to the county assessor.
The assessor computes the levy rate required to raise the certified tax for each district and ensures that none of the constitutional or statutory limitations is violated. The county treasurer mails tax bills on or about February 14 of the year, in which they are collected and the receipts are distributed back to the various districts.
Tax Code Area (TCA)
A TCA is a geographical area in which local entities such as a city, county, school, or fire district may assess taxes to sustain its operations. These combined taxing districts make up a TCA. In a county as large and diverse a Snohomish, there are hundreds of TCAs. TCA summaries can be reviewed as part of the assessor's Annual Report for Taxes. View the various taxing districts.
Statutory Rate Limit
The regular levy of each taxing district cannot exceed a certain rate, which is determined by the type of district. For example, the levy for the county current expense fund cannot exceed $1.80.
The aggregate regular levy rate of all senior and junior taxing districts (not including the state, port districts, public utility districts, emergency medical levies, and conservation futures) cannot exceed $5.90.
1% Constitutional Limit
Washington's State Constitution limits the regular (non-voted) combined property tax rate to 1% ($10 per $1,000) of assessed valuation. Voters may vote for special levies (such as school levies) that are added to this figure.
Initiative 747 (I-747), which was approved by voters in 2001, changed the amount a taxing district may levy. The regular property tax levy of a taxing district is limited to 101% of the highest levy since 1985, plus amounts attributable to new construction within the boundaries of the district, increases due to newly constructed wind turbines, and/or annexations to the district. Prior to I-747, the limit was 106% per Referendum 47. Please note that the initiative does not affect assessed values; it limits the amount a district may levy.
In 2006, I-747 was declared unconstitutional in King County Superior Court. The Attorney General filed an appeal and the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court. In 2007, the State Legislature in special session reinstated the limit factor adopted by the voters under I-747.