Levy Limitations


Regular Levies are taxes that a taxing district may collect each year without voter approval.  Regular property tax levies are subject to several statutory and constitutional limits. 

Statutory Rate Limit
The regular levy of each taxing district cannot exceed a certain rate, which is determined by the type of district. For example, the levy for the county current expense fund cannot exceed $1.80.

$5.90 Limit
The aggregate regular levy rate of all senior and junior taxing districts (not including the state, port districts, public utility districts, emergency medical levies, and conservation futures) cannot exceed $5.90.  RCW 84.52.043

1% Constitutional Limit
Washington's State Constitution limits the regular (non-voted) combined property tax rate to 1% ($10 per $1,000) of assessed valuation (not including port districts and public utility districts). Voters may vote for special levies (such as school levies) that are added to this figure. RCW 84.52.050

1% Levy Limit (Initiative 747)
Initiative 747 (I-747), which was approved by voters in 2001, changed the amount a taxing district may levy. The regular property tax levy of a taxing district is limited to 101% of the highest levy since 1985, plus amounts attributable to new construction, increases in state assessed property and annexations to the district. Prior to I-747, the limit was 106% per Referendum 47. Please note that the initiative does not affect assessed values; it limits the amount a district may levy.

In 2006, I-747 was declared unconstitutional in King County Superior Court. The Attorney General filed an appeal and the decision was upheld by the Supreme Court. In 2007, the State Legislature in special session reinstated the limit factor adopted by the voters under I-747.  RCW 84.55.005 and RCW 84.55.010

Additional information is available in the Department of Revenue's publication: How the 1% Property Tax Limit Works.


Excess and Special Levies

Voters within a district may approve excess or special levies.  These levies may be for maintenance and operation (M&O), capital projects and bonds. M&O levies are generally limited to one year except for school and fire districts which are permitted to vote on four year levies.  School districts are permitted to vote on capital projects levies for a length of two to six years. Levies for finance general obligation bonds for capital improvements usually obligate the taxpayers to pay annual principal and interest costs over a period of several years.  Voter approved excess and special levies are over and above the statutory and constitutional limitations. RCW 84.52.052