The Metropolitan King County gave property owners a longer period to receive refunds on property tax errors with last week's unanimous adoption of legislation doubling the refund period from three to six years.
“Changing the refund period from three to six years is a fair approach to an issue that can be easily proven and easily fixed,” said Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles, the sponsor of the legislation. “No one should pay more than he or she should have to pay because of an error made by the County.”
Property owners can ask for a refund on their property tax bill if there was a “manifest error,” which could cover a number of errors, ranging from inaccurate square footage to number of bedrooms or bathrooms, or the data used to calculate property taxes, a double assessment, or a clerical error.
In the past, as a result of a state Legislative change in 2009 before which there was no limit, if the County was responsible for making a “manifest error” on a homeowner’s property tax bill, the compensation due to the property owner could only be for the last three years of the tax bill.
In 2015, the state Legislature adopted legislation sponsored by then Senator Kohl-Welles allowing county legislative authorities to authorize property tax refunds for claims arising from manifest errors for more than three years from the payment due date. Working in collaboration with the King County Auditor’s Office, Kohl-Welles developed new legislation to take advantage of the change in state law. The adopted legislation will extend the refund period for property owners from the current three years to six years.