Why Did My Property Tax Bill Go Up?

Property taxes have skyrocketed for many Oregonians this year – with some taxpayers experiencing double digit percentage increases over the year before and average increases in the Metro area of 11 % (Multnomah), 6.5 % (Clackamas), and 5.9 % (Washington).

In my post about new bond measures last week, I explained that recently passed Bond Measures have caused tax rates to reach a new peak this year. But, as the Multnomah County Assessor put it; Bond Measures are only one part of the equation.

New laws passed by the Oregon Legislature changing how property is valued – along with the aggressive pursuit of "exceptions" to Measure 50 by the Oregon Department of Revenue, counties, and even cities – have all served to countermand the protections against rapidly rising property taxes that 1997 Ballot Measure 50 was supposed to offer.

The Oregon Department of Revenue even published a manual for County Assessors titled "There Are Always Exceptions…" (DOR's emphasis). The manual identifies ways Assessors can find exceptions to Measure 50 – and exceed the annual three percent per year cap on maximum assessed values.

The biggest culprit this year has been "compression" – a complicated reduction in education and government property taxes based on a formula created by a 1990 law called Measure 5. I will be explaining compression in more detail in a future post.

For now, it is important to examine your tax statements closely to try to determine if there were large increases in your real market or assessed values and if so, why. It is not always easy to see from the statement, so you might benefit from having a professional assist you.

Changes to real market and assessed values that result in tax increases can be challenged. This is the part of the equation that we can typically change with an appeal or better reporting. If you want to appeal, don't forget that the deadline to file this year is December 31.