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Property Taxes Pay For… What Exactly?

Posted by Johnine Larsen on February 16, 2017
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King County’s median annual property tax payment is $3,824. What, exactly, does all that money pay for?

Short answer: schools, fire protection, and transportation.

Long answer: King County collects property taxes on behalf of Washington, local municipalities, and taxing districts. The county  then distributes the money to local governments. The majority of property tax revenue (almost fifty-two percent) goes to schools, and as much as fifty percent of King County property taxes (depending on the area) came from voter-approved measures.

Examples of recent voter-approved measures include:

  • Sound Transit 3 (ST3), which will connect the region’s cities with mass transit including 62 new miles of light rail; bus rapid transit on the north, east and south of Lake Washington; expanded passenger capacity on Sounder south line trains; and parking, bike and pedestrian access improvements at stations throughout the system.
  • School levies in the Auburn, Federal Way, Tukwila, Seattle, Renton, Mercer Island, Kent, Vashon Island, Lake Washington, and Highline school districts.
  • Renewal of the Low-Income Housing levy in Seattle.
  • Public safety levies in Normandy Park, Snoqualmie, and Shoreline.
  • Surface Water Management (SWM) Fee to protect water quality from polluted stormwater runoff.

On average, King County property taxes went up 7.96% percent this year. Countywide, property tax will bring in $4.8 billion this year (up from $4.5 billion in 2016). More information available form