Frequently Asked Questions About Property Taxes
When are taxes due and when are they late?
Property taxes are due when the Treasurer has certified them. This typically happens in mid to late January of each year. The taxes are late if the first half is not paid by April 30th. If the first half is paid by April 30th, the balance owing is late if not paid by October 31st.
What if the tax due date falls on a weekend?
If the April 30th or October 31st due date falls on a Saturday or Sunday the due date then becomes the following Monday.
What happens if I make a payment late?
Per Washington State Law (RCW 84.56.020) interest of 1% a month is charged on late payments. The interest is on the full amount due, since the entire tax is late if half is not paid by April 30th. In addition, a penalty of 3% is added on June 1st and another 8% penalty is added on December 1st. Simple interest and penalty is added on the 1st of the month and it is not prorated. Although interest continues to accrue as long as the tax remains delinquent, the penalty is assessed against the current year tax only.
Personal property, except mobile homes, that are delinquent on April 30th become fully due. You no longer have the option to pay the current year first half. Real property can continue to pay the first half amount through October 30th. Personal property and mobile homes are subject to sale for non-payment as soon as taxes are late. Real property is not sold until it is a full 3 years delinquent. We charge additional costs once a property is subject to sale for non-payment of property taxes.
If your payment is late, it must include interest and penalty or the payment will be returned to you.
Do you grant extensions?
All counties are governed by the laws of the State of Washington. The law does not allow extensions due to hardship or any other extenuating circumstance.
Can I pay part of my tax bill until I get more money?
Yes you can arrange for a payment plan with the Treasurer for delinquent,
prior year property taxes. You must remain current for the current year's tax payments to remain eligible. Contact the Treasurer's Office so we can mail you a payment plan agreement which requires your signature so we are confident you understand the terms.
For current year property taxes we must receive the full amount that is due. Late payments must include interest and penalty that is due. Payments not for the amount due will be returned. Half payments are valid for only the current year amount until October 30th. Current year real property taxes paid after October 30th must pay the entire year's balance.
How can I find taxes paid for a prior year?
First locate your property on the Property Search page then look for a link called "Installments Payable/Paid For Tax Year(Enter 4-digit Year, then Click-Here)" down the left side of the page. Enter the tax year you want information for and click on the link.
Why haven’t I received my tax statement?
You may not have updated your mailing address with us, or the statement may have been lost in the mail. We mail a tax statement to individuals who have said they are directly paying their taxes. We send a summary postcard if you have arranged for your mortgage company to pay your taxes for you. We also send the summary postcard if you have signed up for our automatic withdrawal plan (ACH). Both of these notices go out in February based on addresses we have as of December 31st.
It is your responsibility to pay taxes even if the tax notice does not reach you. Please call us for a duplicate statement or check the balance due using our online search. It is a good idea to verify online we have the correct mailing address.
How can I pay using the internet?
You can pay online using an electronic check, major credit card or VISA debit card. For an electronic check payment there is no transaction fee. For a credit card payment there is a 2.35% or $2.00 minimum transaction fee. For a VISA debit card payment there is a $3.95 transaction fee.
Where can I pay my taxes in person?
You can pay using cash, money order, check, credit card or VISA debit card at our office at the courthouse: (the same fees apply for credit card or VISA debit card as paying using the internet)
Thurston County Treasurer
2000 Lakeridge Dr SW
Building 1, Room 119
Olympia, WA 98502
Where can I mail my property tax payment?
You can mail your payment to our office at the courthouse:
Thurston County Treasurer
2000 Lakeridge Dr SW
Olympia, WA 98502
Do you have an automatic payment program?
Yes we do. We can set up an automatic payment option to pay your property taxes from your checking or savings account. Click here to get a copy of the enrollment form to fill out and mail it to our office along with a voided check to get started.
My mortgage company should pay my taxes, what should I do?
You are legally the taxpayer and we work directly with you. You have a contractual relationship with your mortgage company that does not involve our office. We do help facilitate passing along the information your mortgage company needs to make the payment. Most information exchanges with the mortgage companies take place electronically. You should have received a summary postcard from us in mid February indicating a mortgage company was paying. If you did not receive this postcard, you should contact us or check online.
It is always your responsibility to ensure taxes are paid in a timely manner. You can check the payment of taxes online to see that yours are current. We encourage you to also check online if you want a copy of your tax bill.
Why are you just notifying me now that my taxes have been delinquent for several years?
The office sends out a tax statement to the last known address. The statement lists current and delinquent taxes. If you did not provide a current address or the tax statement was returned as undeliverable, you may not have received the statement. It is your responsibility to keep your address current and to check if you do not receive a statement. The taxes attach to the property and remain a lien against the property not against the individual.
I just bought the property but the statement you sent includes past due taxes. Isn’t the previous owner responsible for the delinquent taxes?
No, taxes follow the property, not the taxpayer. The county does not foreclose on people, only the property. It is your responsibility to ascertain the status of taxes before you purchase the property.
I bought the house this year but never received a statement and now you show I owe delinquent taxes for last yearwith interest and penalty?
Thurston County does not send out tax statements other than when required by law - which is at the first of the year based on ownership on December 31st of the prior year. It is your responsibility to decide how the taxes are being handled in your real estate closing and know whether the property still has taxes due for the year.
Is my payment on time if I mail it on April 30th for first half/October 31st for second half taxes?
Yes, a payment is on time if it is postmarked on or before the due date. Dates imprinted by a postage meter do not comply. Because of changes in how mail is handled by the US Post Office they no longer guarantee a postmark of the same date your payment is mailed. To avoid late charges please allow more than one day.
How do I find my property account number?
The 11-digit property number is assigned by the Thurston County Assessor. It is shown on your tax statement in the upper left corner. It also is shown on the Assessor's Value Change Notice in about the middle of the page. You can also obtain the number by calling the Thurston County Assessor at 360-867-2200, option 1. Or you can call customer service at our office. Refer to our contact numbers.
How do I change my mailing address on my statement?
You can notify us of a change of address by writing the new address on the remittance stub you include when you return a tax payment. Or you can write us requesting such a change. You can also submit a request electronically.
How do I change my name on my statement?
Spelling corrections or similar minor changes to the taxpayer name can be made by writing the change on your tax remittance stub you use to make your payment. Legally changing the ownership/taxpayer name requires a Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit be filed with our office. These forms can be obtained online but must be submitted in person or via the mail.
What are personal property taxes?
Personal property includes the business equipment owned by anyone who operates a business in Thurston County. Personal property tax rates are the same as real property and payment dates are generally the same. Except if the first half is not paid by 4/30, the entire tax must be paid. Also, collection (referred to as “distraint”) starts immediately when a tax is delinquent. Personal property taxes are a lien on any real property or other business asset owned by the same person.
Can other people view my property information?
The tax roll is public information and anyone has the right to review it. This includes your name and mailing address and any other parts of the information we retain for tax collection purposes.
I’ve sold this property. What should I do with the statement?
You should have handled the property tax during your real estate closing. You prorated the amount due for taxes between the buyer and seller. And then taxes may (or may not) have been settled with the County Treasurer. It might be useful to forward the statement on to the new owner or you may save the statement for your records.
What are omitted taxes?
Omitted taxes are for improvements (generally buildings) to the property to which value should have been assessed in prior years but wasn't. Omitted assessments can be added for up to 3 prior years. Taxes are based on the assessed value and levy rate appropriate for each prior year. You get an additional year to pay omitted taxes. The regular taxes (non-omitted) remain due in February and will be late if half is not paid by April 30th.
This is a worthless piece of land and I do not want it. Will my credit suffer if I just let it go to foreclosure sale?
Delinquent tax information is not reported to any credit agency. Your name will appear in the foreclosure notice of delinquent taxes in the Legal Notices column of a local newspaper. Any amount received at sale that is more than the taxes and collection costs due will be given to you.
When does foreclosure begin and what is involved?
Real property foreclosure begins once the real property taxes are a full 3 years delinquent. Personal property is put into collection immediately upon becoming delinquent. Both processes start in June of each year culminating in final sale the second week in January. See our fact sheet for more information.
What are these “other charges” on the tax bill?
By law, the treasurer can bill and collect for other types of government charges when sending out the tax bill. This is generally a cheaper method of billing customers as everything appears on one bill. We bill for the following government assessments:
- State Forest Fire Protection
- Noxious Weed Control
- Conservation District
- Drainage Districts
- Lakes Management Districts
- Septic Program
These assessments are not a tax, they are a charge for value received as determined by the appropriate governing body. The charge does create an enforceable lien on your property.
What if I don’t pay these other charges?
We will accept a payment that is for taxes only. However, the assessments are enforceable liens on your property and the property can be sold through the foreclosure process if the assessments are not paid. Most of the assessments also charge interest and penalty on late payments.
I want to protest the tax I owe. What can I do?
If you believe the tax is unlawful or excessive and want to preserve your right to seek a refund in court you must submit a separate written statement saying you are paying the tax under protest and stating all of the reasons why you believe the tax paid under protest is unlawful or excessive. This statement must accompany your tax payment.
This statement does not do anything to change the tax you are charged and we provide no response to the statement. The letter merely preserves a legal right to pursue action. You must take that action by following the appeal process (and meet the timelines) done through the Thurston County Board of Equalization.
Also, if you have an issue with any of the individual taxes, you should be contacting the governing body of the entity with your questions.
Where can I find definitions for some of the terms on my tax bill?
Please look in our glossary for additional information on terms.
Assessed Value Questions
What can I do if I disagree with my assessed value?
How do I find out more information about my assessed value?
The Thurston County Assessor is responsible for assessment of property. You can visit their website or contact them at 360-867-2200.
How do I get a senior or disabled property tax exemption?
If your annual household income does not exceed $48,566 and you own and reside in your home, including mobile homes, you may be able to get a tax reduction. You must be at least 61 years of age or, if under 61, retired because of a disability and unable to work. To apply for the senior/disabled exemption, contact the Thurston County Assessor.
As a senior, you may also qualify to have your taxes "deferred" and paid by your estate. See the Thurston County Assessor website for more information.
I have a senior exemption so why am I still paying taxes?
The amount of tax reduced depends on the value of your property and the level of your income. Not all of the tax may disappear but you will receive a significant reduction. All qualifying senior/disabled taxpayers, regardless of property value, are exempt from voted taxes. In Thurston County voted taxes are, on average, about 40% of the tax bill.
I applied for a senior/disabled exemption but it is not reflected on my tax bill. What happened?
Depending on when you applied, the Assessor may not have completed their part of the process and notified us so we can send you an updated tax bill. We cannot change the tax amount due until the Assessor has processed and approved your application. You must pay whatever tax is due on the due dates or you will owe interest and penalty, even if you have an application pending. If your application is processed after you pay, you will receive a refund or a bill for a reduced balance depending on the amount of the change.
What other exemption/deferral programs are available?
All exemption programs are administered by the Thurston County Assessor. See their website for information on other exemptions/deferral programs such as home improvements, open space, agricultural, etc. They also have information about damaged property.