Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Board adjudicates appeals brought by taxpayers of the following determinations by the Assessor:
- Assessed valuations of real and personal property [RCW 84.48.010]
- Denial of deferrals for senior citizens and disabled persons [RCW 84.38.040]
- Denial of exemptions for senior citizens and disabled persons [RCW 84.36.385]
- Denial of deferrals for homeowners with limited income [RCW 84.37.040]
- Special valuation of historic property [RCW 84.26.130]
- Denial of exemptions for new improvements made to a single-family dwelling [RCW 84.36.400]
- Forest land classification [RCW 84.33]
- Current use classification [RCW 84.34]
- Destroyed property [RCW 84.70]
- Change in the assessed value resulting from governmental restrictions affecting the use of property [RCW 84.40.039]
- Claims for real or personal property tax exemptions [RCW 84.36.010]
The only way to appeal the Assessor’s valuation of your property is by timely filing a properly completed taxpayer petition with the Board of Equalization. The prescribed appeal petition form must be used. A hand-written signature is required. Electronic filing is acceptable only through the NEW Petition link under Filing Electronic Submissions on the BOE home page. The BOE does not accept appeals via email or fax. A letter, an email, or a telephone call is not an acceptable substitute for the completed petition form.
A property owner or taxpayer may file an appeal. The taxpayer means the person or entity whose name and address appears on the assessment rolls, or their duly authorized agent.
It is a conflict of interest for the Board of Equalization to hear appeals involving property owned in whole or in part by members or employees of the BOE or the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), or any person related to a member or employee of the BOE or the BOCC by blood or marriage. WAC 458-14-146 If the property owner(s) are related to a member of the Board of Equalization, BOE staff, a member of the Board of County Commissioners, or the Commissioners’ staff by blood or marriage, please contact the BOE Clerk for further instructions prior to filing your Petition.
The filing deadline is either July 1st of the assessment year or within 60 days of the date that the Valuation Notice is mailed by the Assessor. The appeal deadline date will appear on the Assessor’s Notice. A petition filed by mail must be postmarked by the U.S. Postal Service no later than the filing deadline. Petitions delivered to the Board’s office must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the filing deadline. If the last day to file falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline for filing is the next business day. Petition forms can be sent by U.S. mail, an express service (e.g. Federal Express or UPS), personally delivered, or submitted online using the NEW Petition link under Filing Electronic Submissions on the BOE home page.
Assessment year means the calendar year when the property is valued by the Assessor. January 1 of each year is the assessment date. The assessment year precedes the calendar year when the tax is due and payable. Example: Properties are assessed in 2022 by the Assessor's Office, and taxpayers are billed in 2023 by the Treasurer's Office for taxes payable in 2023. New construction is valued as of July 31 of the assessment year, instead of January 1.
Go to BOE Forms to download the petition and other forms through this website. You can also request a petition to be mailed or emailed to you by contacting the Clerk of the BOE at (360) 786-5135, TDD call 711 or 1-800-833-6388, or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also pick up petition forms in person at the BOE office, 3000 Pacific Avenue SE, Room 230, Olympia WA 98512.
There are limited exceptions under the law for late filing. If the taxpayer’s situation qualifies, a Late Filing Exception Request or Request for Reconvening may be submitted by April 30th of the tax year following the assessment year. Example: Late filing or reconvening requests for the 2022 assessment year must be submitted by April 30, 2023.
Reasons for late filing exceptions include:
- The Death or serious illness of the taxpayer or a member of the taxpayer’s immediate family.
- The taxpayer was absent from the address where the value change notice is received for more than 15 days of the 60-day filing period.
- The taxpayer relied upon incorrect written advice as to the filing requirements by either a Board member, Board staff, the Assessor, or the Assessor’s staff.
- The taxpayer was unable to file due to a natural disaster occurring at or shortly before the time for filing.
- The taxpayer was unable to file due to a delay or loss related to the delivery of the petition by the Postal Service, and documented by the Postal Service.
- The taxpayer is a business and was unable to file the petition by the filing deadline because the person employed by the business, responsible for dealing with property taxes, was unavailable due to illness or unavoidable absence.
Reasons for a request for reconvening submitted by the taxpayer include:
- The taxpayer did not receive the Assessor’s Value Change Notice for the assessment year at least 15 days prior to the filing deadline and can show proof that the value has changed (a sworn declaration is also required).
- The current owner purchased the property in an arms-length transaction after July 1st but on or before December 31st of the assessment year and the sale price was less than 90% of the assessed valuation.
- The Assessor submits affidavit stating that the assessor was unaware of facts which were discoverable at the time of appraisal and that such lack of facts caused the valuation of property to be materially affected.
The statutory deadline for the Assessor to mail Value Notices is May 31, however, notices have been mailed later in the year since 2020 due to the Covid pandemic. The property value notice will show the assessed value of the land, the improvements, and the total value. The total assessed value should not exceed the market value of your property. The Assessor is required to send notices to the taxpayers whose names and addresses appear on the assessment rolls. It is the taxpayer’s responsibility to notify the Assessor of any address change, and to request that the Assessor or mortgage company send a copy of the notice. If you did not receive a Property Value Notice at all, or if you received it less than 15 days before the appeal filing deadline, contact the Board’s Clerk. Depending upon the circumstances, you may be eligible to file a late appeal.
ALL INFORMATION BELOW IS REQUIRED IN ORDER FOR YOUR APPEAL TO BE CONSIDERED BY THE BOARD:
- The Assessor’s parcel number associated to your property;
- Your name, address, and contact information;
- Name of owner's/taxpayer's representative, if applicable (please include power of attorney);
- The values (land, improvements/buildings and total) as listed by the Assessor;
- Your opinion of the values, including a breakdown of the land, the improvements/buildings, and the total value;
- Specific reasons explaining why you believe the Assessor’s value does not reflect the true and fair market value of your property. You know your property best, so include adequate statements pertaining only to issues affecting the market value of your property. You may also provide evidence or information (i.e., photos, appraisals, cost-to-cure bids) as to the reasons why you believe the Assessor’s determination is incorrect. By law, the Board of Equalization CANNOT consider the amount of tax, the assessed value of other properties, the percentage of assessment increase, personal hardship, and other matters unrelated to the market value.
- Sign and date the petition; and
- Attach a copy of the Assessor’s Property Value Notice (if filing after July 1).
The Assessor is an elected official whose office determines property assessments and administers several property exemption and current use programs. The Treasurer is an elected official whose office bills and collects property taxes on behalf of taxing districts. The Board of Equalization is an independent quasi-judicial board that hears appeals from taxpayers who disagree with their property assessments and other determinations of the Assessor. Again, the Board of Equalization is separate from and independent of the Assessor.
Taxpayers should contact the Assessor’s office to review valuation issues whenever there is a question regarding assessed value. However, contacting the Assessor’s office does not extend the filing deadline for appealing property valuations. Therefore, taxpayers who wish to preserve their appeal rights still need to file timely petitions with the Board even if they are engaged in discussions with the Assessor’s office.
Manifest error means an error in listing or assessment, which does not involve a revaluation of property, including the following:
- An error in the legal description;
- A clerical or posting error;
- Double assessments;
- Misapplication of statistical data;
- Incorrect characteristic data;
- Incorrect placement of improvements;
- Erroneous measurements;
- The assessment of property exempted by law from taxation;
- The failure to deduct the exemption allowed by law to the head of a family; or
- Any other error which can be corrected by reference to the records and valuation methods applied to similarly situated properties, without exercising appraisal judgment. [WAC 458-14-005(14)]
The Board encourages taxpayers to provide any additional evidence in support of their appeal as soon as possible. All documentary evidence must be postmarked or received by both the Board and the Assessor’s Office no later than 21 business days prior to the scheduled hearing date. For more information on types of evidence to submit, see Acceptable Evidence in Preparing An Appeal. Contact the Board’s Clerk if you have any question about the evidence submission deadline. Please refer to the Hearing Preparation Guide for more information.
Information regarding sales of comparable properties may be obtained by accessing the Assessor's website, through personal research, local realtors, and appraisers. Because State law requires that all property to be valued at 100% of true and fair market value, sales of comparable properties are the best indicator of market value. Please keep in mind that, by law, the Assessor’s valuation is presumed to be correct. The burden of proof is on the Petitioner to show by clear, cogent, and convincing evidence that the assessed value is not correct. As a standard of review, clear, cogent, and convincing is higher than the "preponderance of the evidence" standard for civil proceedings, but lower than "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard required in criminal cases.
Comparable properties do not have to exactly match your property. Look for properties that are most similar, then note their differences and adjust the value of the other property to reflect those differences. For example, if your property has an obscured view, and the only similar property that sold has a much better view, discount the sale price to the amount you believe someone would be willing to pay for the lesser view. If your property has deteriorated conditions that would make it difficult to sell, provide written contractor estimates of the "cost to cure" for those conditions. Photos are particularly effective support for arguments regarding condition.
You may withdraw your appeal for any reason and at any time up to 2 business days before your scheduled hearing date by submitting a signed Withdrawal form with the Board, or by notifying the Board’s Clerk by email or a telephone call of your intent to withdraw.
The Board’s Clerk will notify you of the date, time, and place of your hearing, at least 22 business days in advance of the hearing date. Although the Board makes every effort to schedule hearings in a timely manner, it is not uncommon for taxpayers to wait 12 to 18 months after filing their petitions for a hearing date, depending on several factors, including the volume of appeals filed with the Board.
Both the Petitioner and the Assessor’s Representative will each have an opportunity to provide oral testimony to support their opinions of value. Because the Board members review all the information submitted by both the Petitioner and the Assessor in advance of the hearings, the time allotted for each appeal is brief. The Petitioner and the Assessor’s Representative each have 10 minutes to present their case for a single-parcel residential appeal. The Board hears most residential appeals in a shotgun start format, like traffic court. Several petitions are scheduled for the morning or afternoon session without being assigned a specific time. Petitions are heard in the order that Petitioners check in with the Clerk. For a single-parcel commercial or industrial appeal, the Petitioner and the Assessor’s Representative will each be given 15 minutes for testimony. The parties are encouraged to concentrate on the salient points at the hearing. The Board members often question or seek clarification from both the Petitioner and the Assessor’s Representative during the hearing.
The BOE hearing is informal and designed to enable Petitioners to represent themselves. However, Petitioners have the right to be represented by a friend or relative, or by a professional such as an attorney, accountant, realtor, real estate appraiser, or property manager. If you wish to designate someone to represent you, you must submit a Power of Attorney form or complete the appropriate section of the petition form prior to the hearing.
The BOE offers teleconference hearings for Petitioners who are out of the county or who need reasonable accommodation due to an illness or disability. Please contact the BOE Clerk to request a teleconference hearing.
BOE hearings have been held remotely via a conference call format since the start of the Covid pandemic, however, in-person hearings are expected to resume in the coming months. In-person attendance is available to members of the public except for confidential proceedings involving proprietary business information. Hearings are held in the BOE Hearing Room, 3000 Pacific Avenue SE, Room 244, Olympia, WA 98501. The BOE Hearing Room is wheelchair accessible. To request disability accommodations, please call the Reasonable Accommodation Coordinator at least 3 days prior to the meeting at 360-786-5440. Persons with speech or hearing disabilities may call via Washington Relay: 711 or 1-800-833-6388.
Copies of the BOE’s written decisions are mailed to Petitioners and the Assessor, usually within 30 to 45 days of the hearing. The BOE may either sustain the Assessor’s value, reduce the assessment, or increase the assessment.
Either the Petitioner or the Assessor may appeal the Board of Equalization’s decision to the State Board of Tax Appeals (BTA) within 30 calendar days of the mailing date of the BOE's decision. Appeals to the BTA are heard on a "de novo" basis, which means that it is a "new" hearing where the parties can provide new arguments, testimony, and evidence to the BTA that was not presented to the BOE. BTA Forms and information are available by contacting the State Board of Tax Appeals at voice/TDD 360-753-5446 or sending email to email@example.com. The parties may e-file informal property valuation appeals with the BTA through their website http://www.bta.state.wa.us.
Taxpayers are advised to pay their property taxes when due. Any adjustment or refund will be addressed by the Treasurer after the final resolution of the appeal.
You may also pay your taxes under protest and petition the Superior Court for a refund by filing a lawsuit under chapter 84.68 RCW.
The Board’s decisions are only binding on the parties for the assessment year of the decision. Thurston County is on an annual revaluation cycle for assessments, and taxpayers have the right to appeal their assessments each year by timely filing completed petition forms with the Board. Any property value adjustment made by the BOE may not be reflected in the Assessor’s property valuations for subsequent years. It is important to note if you have not had a hearing on your appeal from the previous year and you disagree with this year's assessment value, you will need to file a new appeal for the current year during the filing period.
For more information, contact Ruth Elder, the Board’s Clerk by sending an email message, by calling (360) 786-5135, or TDD call 711 or 1-800-833-6388. Office hours are limited during the 60-day appeal period. During the remainder of the year, customer service is offered by appointment only. Please contact our office in advance of your visit to request an appointment.