Yakima County's Tax Assessor Dave Cook appeared on the KIT Morning News to talk taxes today.  Is he the Tax Boogieman?  Far from it, but some think otherwise.  So what does the tax assessor actually do?

Duties Of The Assessor

Well, In accordance with RCW 36.16 the public elects the Assessor to a four-year term and the duties and responsibilities include working closely with the Washington Department of Revenue to implement all pertinent laws and codes.  More specifically the duties include valuing all existing property and new construction taxable property.  Other functions include the senior citizen, disabled person, and appropriate agricultural exemption programs.

Additional information about property taxes in Washington is available from the Department of Revenue.  The Homeowner’s Guide to Property Taxes provides an overview of the programs administered by the Assessor.

How it Works

The bottom line is that the Assessor inhabits the middleman role.  All the various taxing districts (NOT the Assessor) determine their budgets, computing how much money they will need to meet their mission and it might include teaching kids, or running the city, or running the county, or fighting mosquitos, etc, depending on the responsibilities of each individual taxing district.

Once the budget needs are determined and a dollar figure is set, the assessor looks across the property landscape and figures out how to FAIRLY & PROPORTIONALLY gather enough money to meet the budget.  The Assessor doesn't tell you what your house is worth or how much you should or could sell it for.  The Assessor determines what the value of your house and property are in conjunction with all other properties in the county to achieve the amount of money to meet the budget.

Your Assessments Can Change

As budgets change, as more developments come online, your assessment can change.

Example - If budgets stay the same, a large expensive project could come in and add to the tax base and as a result, your assessment could go down. (when do budgets stay the same?)

Assessments From The Horse's Mouth