King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane Counties have extended the property-tax deadline for their residents

By MARK HARMSWORTH  | 
Mar 30, 2020
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King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane Counties have extended their respective property tax deadlines to help relieve the burden on Washington taxpayers during the COVID-19 crisis. For most homeowners that pay their taxes with their mortgage payment, however, there won’t be any relief.

King, Pierce and Snohomish County have extended the payment due date for property taxes to June 1st, 2020. Spokane County has extended the deadline to June 15th, 2020. No interest will be charged on payments received by that date. This effects homeowners that pay their property taxes directly (not through an escrow company) and will provide relief for those taxpayers.

For the homeowners that pay their property taxes as part of the regular monthly mortgage payment, there won’t be any tax relief. Since the property taxes are collected monthly with the mortgage payment, the mortgage escrow companies will still have to pay the property taxes for the homeowners, on time, by April 30th.

Homeowners have seen significant increases to their property taxes over the last few years caused by increasing property values. Additionally, the legislature authorized large property tax increases in response to the 2007 McCleary education funding court case. With local and county governments also increasing property tax rates, the homeowners in Washington have seen unprecedented highs in the amount of property taxes they are paying.

As previously published, the Washington Policy Center supports delaying property tax payments to help homeowners through the crisis. The legislature and state should follow the lead of the King, Pierce, Snohomish and Spokane County leadership and consider immediate relief by offering a property tax deferral, reduction in rate or suspension of penalties.

While this is a good first step by county governments in an emergency, the relief should apply to all taxpayers equally, irrespective if they pay their taxes directly or through a mortgage company. While the counties don’t have direct control over the mortgage and escrow companies, the option to delay payment should have been offered. This would have allowed those companies to offer their customers the ability to delay payments if they need to.

As the list grows of government agencies considering similar proposals, Washington State should do the same to help our homeowners stay in their homes.