Submitted by San Juan County
The San Juan County Assessor’s Office mailed the 2020 Change of Value Notices on Oct. 1, 2020. The notices show market value as of Jan. 1, 2020, based on sales between Jan. 1, 2019, and April 30, 2020.
The new values do not reflect much impact from the pandemic because the cutoff for the sales analysis was April 30. Sales activity after April 30 will be used for 2021 assessed values. It is too early to predict how values will change as a result of the pandemic.
The total assessed value for San Juan County increased more than $200 million over last year, including $110 million in new construction value. The physical inspection area included 2,731 properties on the west half of Orcas Island and all of Waldron, Crane, and the Wasp Islands, with an additional 652 inspections for new construction on other islands.
An increase in property value does not mean the same percentage increase in next year’s taxes. Washington uses a budget-based property tax system and the taxing district budgets can only increase a certain amount each year. When the value of the district increases more than the increase allowed for the budget, tax rates drop.
Determining value is the first part of a budget-based assessment process. It is intentionally separate from the second part — calculating the tax rates, also known as the levy rates, to get the approved budget amounts of the taxing districts. When your assessed value increases, it could be considered good news because it generally means your real estate investment is appreciating.
Assessed values are standardized in Washington at 100 percent of market value as of January 1st of the assessment year. Historically, they were 60 percent of the market value from 1906 to 1932, then changed to 50 percent by voter initiative, then changed to the current standard of 100 percent in 1974.
The levy rates and tax amounts are not known, or even knowable, until all taxing districts submit their budget information to the Assessor’s Office in November. The Assessor’s Office reviews the budget amounts of each district to make sure they do not exceed the maximum amounts allowed, then calculates the levy rates needed to equal the approved amounts.
For more information, visit the Assessor’s website www.sanjuanco.com/149/Assessor. If you have questions about your assessed value, please call the Assessor’s Office at 360-378-2172 between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday; or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sales information can be reviewed from the Assessor’s website using the sales search option located in the upper right corner of the parcel search page.