Submitted by Washington Senate Democrats
A property tax plan passed by Senate Republicans to fund basic education was billed as impacting only “property rich” school districts, but nonpartisan information tells a very different story.
The plan, Senate Bill 5607, creates a new statewide property tax that beginning in 2019 would charge $1.55 per $1,000 in assessed value and eliminate local school district levies for that year.
In 2021, however, when the plan is fully implemented, homeowners in 292 of the 295 school districts throughout the state could see a spike in their property tax bill.
“There has been a coordinated effort to characterize this plan as a tax cut, but when it is fully implemented there is almost no one in the state that will be immune from a massive tax hike,” Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson said.
The $5.6 billion plan will set a new school levy limit of 10 percent. If voters decide against increasing levies – which pay for non-basic education activities such as sports, band, tutoring, field trips and a variety of after-school programs – some school districts will see a property tax reduction. If voters opt in favor of funding local schools, homeowners will see a substantial property tax increase.
Below are the property tax impacts on Pierce County and surrounding school districts in 2021. The first column shows the impact without the 10 percent school levy. The second column shows the impact with the levy increase:
- Steilacoom Historical: -$7; +$225
- Puyallup: -$155; +$178
- Tacoma: -$260; +$12
- Carbonado: -$544; -$91
- University Place: -$325; +$118
- Clover Park: -$447; +$91
- Franklin Pierce: -$264; +$114
- Bethel: -$181; +$140
The plan forces voters in these districts to choose between property tax cuts or partially funding schools through a large property tax hike. Worst of all, people in Peninsula will see a property tax hike whether or not they vote for school levies. There are 94 school districts across the state that are in the same lose-lose situation.
“We must fully and fairly fund our schools, but we must do so in a way that doesn’t negatively impact hard working families across our state,” Nelson said. “This property tax plan asks those who already shoulder an unfair amount of the tax burden to shoulder even more. That is unacceptable.”