State Sen. Phil Fortunato
State Sen. Phil Fortunato (Photo: Washington State Legislature)

OLYMPIA… Recent changes in the state’s property tax, added pressures from local tax levies and rising home values mean more people are struggling to pay their property taxes. That is why state Sen. Phil Fortunato, R-Auburn, and the Senate Republican Caucus are pushing to amend the state’s constitution to restructure Washington’s property tax aimed at relief for homeowners.

Modeled after California’s successful Proposition 13, Senate Joint Resolution 8219 would freeze property valuations as of Jan. 1, 2020, and not be recalculated until there is a change of ownership.

“The state has seen record growth in its budget at the expense of taxpayers around the state. We’ve reached a point now that is unsustainable for the very people that fund government and they need relief,” said Fortunato. “Not only are people unable to afford getting into a home, they’re quickly being taxed out of them. During my time in the Senate, the state has raked in billions more than we expected and spent it all on everything but what Washingtonians are clamoring for – tax relief.”

Fortunato’s proposal is aimed at helping people stay in their homes by capping the growth of property taxes paid to the state to a more affordable point when the home is purchased.

“By changing our constitution this way, we are giving homeowners certainty they deserve. It will put a check on out-of-control spending and do what the Legislature has been unwilling or unable to do,” Fortunato said. “The sad thing is that some decision makers in Olympia can’t be trusted. I voted for historic funding changes to our schools that gave over 70% of property owners a tax cut, only to have the majority betray that and fling the door wide-open to additional tax increases. That’s unacceptable. We should enshrine this principle of fiscal restraint in our state’s constitution.”

(6) comments

Richard Harris

How about extending the deadline for our property taxes. I think many will be hard pressed to make the April payment. So many are out of work. It wouldn't be fair to back them into a corner financially.

Richard Harris

If everyone of us refused to pay our property taxes for 1 year, I'm thinking the county assessor would back off a bit. Their appetite for funds seems to be unquenchable. The bigger that government becomes, the more of our money they will need to support their bloated staffing.

Barbara Walden

Perhaps people don’t know many Californians are fleeing this state due to the increasing tax burdens. To prevent an exit from Washington too, this state must consider property tax relief for it’s citizens. Here is one of the reasons why. When a person buys a home, they do so knowing their income and budget. As the property value increases, the owner has no control over the newly added cost to their budget and this forces people out of the very home they could once longer. That is wrong! It’s hard for me to understand how anyone can’t see this. Let’s face it. Every house will eventually change ownership and the state can begin collecting a higher rate when the new owner knows how much that tax fee will be. Homes are constantly built and ownerships always change so the State receives the increased property taxes. They just won’t be able to push a current homeowner, especially the seniors and the fixed income homeowners, from having to leave a house they bought with knowledge of what they could afford. Remember, it isn’t that the state won’t be adding taxes voted on for support such as for schools, police, fire defense etc. The point of a change to a “fixed” assessed value on property tax means one doesn’t have to pay the tax for a “million” dollar home when it was only assessed at $200,000 when they first bought it.

Tom Davis

California also has a state income tax up to 13.3% to offset lost revenue from Prop. 13. Are you also proposing a constitutional amendment for a state income tax, Sen. Fortunato?

John Newburn

California has had a personal income tax since 1935 See . California's Prop 13 came out in 1978. So no income taxes were not cause of Prop 13. I do believe Prop 13 was created because residents were being taxed to death everywhere else including income. Also California is notorious for not managing their funds well and over paying politicians. If all politicians were to be reduced to what corporate views their work based on experience and education we could reduce expenses. Additionally if we as a society were paying wages for politician no longer holding office then that money could be used to help these broken areas.

Tom Davis

Just to be clear, I was not suggesting California created a state income tax because of Prop. 13 (I was a California resident from 1978 to 2005), but that revenue generated from California state income tax made broad-brush property tax relief possible. Washington, on the other hand, has no state income tax to offset the billions of dollars in lost revenue if it adopts a Prop. 13. So, again, is Sen. Fortunato proposing Washington adopt a state income tax to offset a California style Prop. 13 tax relief policy?

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