2020-21 Property Tax Statement
For Immediate Release: Thursday, October 22, 2020
Property Tax Statement Mailing Begins October 22
Approximately 200,000 property tax statements will be mailed to Washington County property owners between October 22 and 23. In the weeks that follow, staff in the County's Department of Assessment & Taxation will assist the public with a variety of inquiries, including how property tax bills are determined, what local services are paid for and what the options are for an appeal.
Services Paid for by Property Taxes
Property taxes in Oregon pay for local services. This year the average property tax dollar in Washington County breaks down in the following manner.
- 16.63 cents for county government services (public safety, road improvements, libraries, elections, public health, etc.)
- 32.18 cents for neighborhood services provided by cities and special districts (police, fire protection, parks and water, Urban Road Maintenance District, Enhanced Sheriff's Patrol District, and Urban Renewal projects)
- 47.69 cents for education (K-12, Portland Community College, Education Service Districts)
- 3.50 cents for regional services (Metro and Port of Portland)
Tax statements reflect the amount of tax paid to each taxing district that provides service in the area where the property is located. Tax rates vary based on the unique mix of taxing districts in a given location called a tax code area. There are 339 separate tax code areas in Washington County this year.
2020-21 Property Taxes
This year's property tax statements account for a total of $1.258 billion, which will pay for the services mentioned above. These services are provided by 62 local taxing districts throughout the County. This is an increase of 5 percent or $59 million compared to last year. The increase in taxes is due to several factors including the 3 percent increase in assessed value on most properties, additional value from new construction activity and new or increased taxing district levies. Please see our 2020 Fact Sheet for more information.
One of the most common inquiries from taxpayers is, "Why did my taxes go up more than 3 percent?"
There are four major reasons your property taxes can increase by more than 3 percent. The first two reasons may be:
1. If you live in a taxing district that has new voter-approved Bonds or Local Option Levies, your property taxes may increase more than the anticipated 3 percent. There are new Levies or Bonds approved or reauthorized by the voters that will be reflected in this year's tax bill.
2. Prior to the assessment date of January 1, if you made any major renovations or changes to your property, your property taxes may increase more than the anticipated 3 percent.
The next two reasons are more complicated and require the definition of key terms to help understand the process:
Assessed Value is the lower of the Real Market Value or the Maximum Assessed Value.
Real Market Value is the amount determined by the county assessor for a property that would sell in an arm's length transaction between a willing buyer and seller on January 1 of each year.
Maximum Assessed Value is the taxable value limit established for each property and is allowed to increase each year by no more than 3 percent.
3. Your Assessed Value (AV) may have increased more than 3 percent. Under Oregon law, your AV is the lesser of your Real Market Value (RMV) and your Maximum Assessed Value (MAV). If your RMV has dropped below your MAV, it is possible for your RMV to increase more than 3 percent from last year yet still be less than your MAV. As the lesser of the two values, RMV then becomes your AV. Your taxes are calculated on the lower of the Real Market Value or the Maximum Assessed Value. This then becomes your Assessed Value.
4. The last reason is due to compression. The operating taxes for schools and local government are limited. Each account is tested to determine if the operating taxes based on the assessed value exceed the limit of $5.00 per $1,000 of RMV for schools and the $10.00 per $1,000 of RMV for local government. If the limit is reached, the tax bill is reduced (compressed). As the market value increases, the difference between the market and the assessed values may increase as well. This reduces the chance for compression but can also increase your tax liability if compared to a prior year's tax that was in compression. If your account has been in compression, it is possible that as the real market values increase, you will see an increase in your property tax bill by more than 3 percent.
The majority of taxpayers, approximately 185,000 accounts, will receive tax statements that have increased when compared with last year. Approximately 168,000 accounts will have tax increases between 0 and 5 percent, and 17,000 accounts will have tax increases over 5 percent. Additionally, approximately 11,000 taxpayer accounts will reflect a tax decrease. These reductions are primarily due to local option levies expiring, expired bonds, compression, or the taxing districts levying a lesser amount. See the attached listing of Typical Residential Properties with examples of values and taxes for typical houses in various parts of the County.
Values and Appeals
The tax statement includes a section on current and prior-year values. Taxpayers concerned that their Assessed Value or Real Market Value is too high should call the Appraisal Division at 503-846-8826 to discuss the basis for their property's appraisal.
Appeals of value may be filed until December 31, 2020. Information pertaining to the appeal process is available on the back of the tax statement and the County Website.
Taxpayers are also encouraged to call the Appraisal Division at 503-846-8826 for assistance in determining how their property was valued. Every year property values are determined as of the assessment date of January 1. Any impact attributable to the COVID pandemic occurred after January 1, 2020.
An informational flyer is included with this year's tax statements. It is a guide to help taxpayers better understand their property tax statement and how to contact the Department of Assessment & Taxation for additional help.
Highlighted again in this year's flyer is the distinction between yellow- and green-colored tax statements:
A YELLOW statement indicates that a mortgage company or the Oregon Department of Revenue has requested a copy of the property tax bill.
A GREEN statement indicates that the property owner is paying the bill.
Taxpayers are encouraged to check with their mortgage company if they think their current arrangement is not reflected by the color of their statement. This has been an area of confusion in past years, resulting in double payments or late payments in some cases.
Taxpayers have several payment options. Taxes may be paid in three installments due November 16, 2020; February 15, 2021; and May 17, 2021. There are also provisions for full payments with a 3 percent discount or a two-thirds payment with a 2 percent discount. Payments must be postmarked by November 16, 2020, to receive a discount. Property owners who do not receive a tax statement by November 1 should call the Tax Collections Office at 503-846-8801.
Due to COVID-19, the County strongly encourages paying taxes by mail, online, or drop box locations. For payment options and drop box locations, please visit the County Website for more information.
Washington County accepts payments via the Internet using a credit card, debit card or a direct transfer from a customer's bank account. This payment method can be accessed through the Washington County Website.
Payments by Phone
Taxpayers also have the option to pay via telephone by calling 1-888-510-9274.
Media Contact:Margaret Garza, Director