The Appeals Process
The State Board holds hearings on matters included within its statutory authority (RCW 82.03.130). This includes hearings on property tax matters that have been decided by a County Board of Equalization. The State Board holds a hearing with the property owner, or the person/entity responsible for paying the property taxes, and the County Assessor and issues a written decision about the property’s value. The State Board decides whether the property value is more, less, or the same as the County Board of Equalization decided. The State Board may not raise the value of the property higher than either the original assessed value or the value assigned by the County Board of Equalization, whichever is greater.
1. A notice of appeal form – Notice of Appeal – Informal – Property (form BTA100)
2. Copy of your County Board of Equalization Order or decision.
Note that the State Board cannot hear an appeal on the assessed value of your property unless the County Board has issued a ruling on value. If the County Board declines jurisdiction or otherwise rejects your appeal, you may only appeal that action of the County Board. The form for appealing a County Board action is on our Forms and Publications page.
- New appeals or submissions for existing appeals are accepted by email to the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- New appeals for property tax valuation matters may also be submitted through the Board’s online electronic filing system.
- Submissions for existing appeals are also accepted though the Board’s online submissions portal.
Electronic files received prior to 5 p.m. on a business day are deemed received on that day. Electronic files received after that time are deemed received on the next business day. The time of receipt of an electronically filed document is the time shown by the Board’s electronic mail system or E-filing system.
Unless requested or ordered by the Board, parties should not file paper copies of electronically transmitted documents. This process is approved by this posting, regardless of the requirements of WAC 456-10-325(2)(b) or WAC 456-09-325(2)(b). Note the Board will request or order the filing of paper copies in most formal appeals.
Parties may maintain original documents in their files. The Board does not require an original document or an original signature.
Note that the Washington State Department of Revenue cannot extend a deadline for filing with the Board of Tax Appeals.
See Spieker Properties v King County Assessor, Docket No. 50119 (1996).
If you feel the Board of Equalization did not have the authority, or otherwise incorrectly rejected your appeal, you may file an “Other County Action” appeal with the State Board within 30 days of the date the Board of Equalization rejected your appeal. The State Board will not rule on the value of your property, but only on whether the Board of Equalization’s action was correct.
Your hearing at the State Board is new (de novo), which means that the State Board will arrive at its own determination of the market value of your property. You will have to prove to the State Board that the original assessed value of your property is incorrect. The State Board may agree with the Board of Equalization value, or agree with you and find a value lower than found by the Board of Equalization. But the State Board could also find that the Assessor’s original value was correct, and you would lose the gains you achieved at the Board of Equalization level.
Appeal forms are located at our Forms and Publications page. County Assessors or Boards of Equalization may also have forms available. Forms must include all items required under WAC 456-10-310 (informal appeal).
The Board does not provide fill-in forms for formal appeals. Formal appeals should be on pleading paper and contain all items identified in WAC 456-09-310. A pleading paper template is also available at our Forms and Publications page.
Persons representing themselves often choose an informal appeal for property tax matters. Hearings are informal and, generally, there are fewer items filed during the course of the appeal. An informal appeal may not be appealed to Superior Court, but a party may still challenge the Board on its initial decision, or ask it to reconsider any ruling. See WAC 456-10-730 (Exceptions) and 456-10-755 (Reconsiderations). Formal appeals are typically chosen when the parties will be conducting discovery, seeking a protective order, or looking for a ruling on an issue of law. Many of the parties asking for a formal hearing are represented by attorneys or other professionals although representation is not required. Final decisions in a formal case may be appealed to Superior Court under the Administrative Procedures Act, chapter 34.05 RCW. For further discussion of practice before the Board of Tax Appeals, see 33 Gonzaga Law Review 141 for a 1997 article by Laura VanderVeer King. The article includes a discussion of the choice between an informal or formal hearing.
Appeal rights are also available for decisions issued following a formal hearing. See Chapter 456-09 WAC.
A lawyer not otherwise authorized to practice law in Washington may associate with an active member of the Washington State Bar and apply to appear in a proceeding before the Board if the applicant complies with all requirements of APR 8(b). See Out of State Lawyers Practice Before the Board.
Yes. Parties may find the following information on filing motions in informal cases helpful.
What is a motion?
A motion is a request for the Board to take some action, such as reschedule a hearing date, exclude evidence, or allow a party to issue interrogatories. As a result, a motion does not need to follow any special format. You may make a request by letter, memo, or through a formalized pleading. All formats will be treated as a motion.
Contact the other party
The Board recommends that you first contact the opposing party. The opposing party may be willing to agree to your motion. In that case, include a copy of the opposing party’s written agreement when you submit your motion to the Board. A written agreement includes agreements made through email.
Follow the motion rules
Even if the opposing party agrees, you must serve a copy of the motion on the opposing party. The motion must comply with this and all other requirements of WAC 456-10-510.
Objecting to a motion
The opposing party is entitled to file a response objecting to the motion. You may not file a further reply unless granted leave by the Board. Your Prehearing Order may include authorization to file a reply for certain kinds of motions.
There are some motions that the Board will not grant, even if the opposing party agrees to the request or fails to object to it. Generally, these are motions that relate to internal processes or procedures that are in place for administrative efficiency or to help maintain a fair appeals process.
You should file your motion well-before any scheduled hearing date. The Board may decline to consider motions filed less than 28 days before the scheduled hearing date.
Follow the Prehearing Order
If the Board has issued a Prehearing Order or other order for your case that states different procedures for filing a motion, you must follow the terms of that order.
Parties should note, however, that materials filed with the Board are public records subject to disclosure under Washington’s Public Records Act, Chapter 42.56 RCW. As a result, protective orders granted by the Board are limited in scope.
A protective order issued by the Board can prohibit disclosure by the parties, but cannot prohibit the Board from disclosing materials in response to a Public Records Act request. Prior to any disclosure, the Board will notify the party whose materials are subject to the protective order at the address on file with the agency. The party may seek and provide orders to the Board that enjoin or otherwise prohibit disclosure.
The Board will not publish decisions with information subject to a protective order until the moving party has had the opportunity to identify confidential information for redaction. Confidential materials retained by the agency after a case is closed will be sealed until destroyed consistent with state records retention policies, unless subject to a public records request.
As of July 15, 2019, persons authorized to appear before the Board under WAC 456-10-210(7) must file a certification with all newly filed appeals, or have a certification on file with the Board.
Presenting the Best Evidence – Property Tax Valuation Appeals
The Board will consider documentary evidence and written and oral testimony. Evidence and testimony should relate to the market value of your property, not the assessed value of other properties. See Bobzin v King County Assessor, Docket No. 32243 (1987).
- Sales comparison approach
- Cost approach
- Income capitalization approach
- Or any combination of the three approaches
Market evidence may include: “Any sales of the property being appraised or similar property with respect to sales made within the past five years.” RCW 84.40.030(1).
For residential property the best way of determining market value is usually by sales comparison.
The best sales comparisons are sales of your property or sales of similar properties located in your area which have occurred within five years of your assessment date. Geis v. Snohomish County Assessor, Docket No. 60520 (2004).
Sales occurring closest to your assessment date and sales considered the most comparable to your property are given the greatest weight.
Yes. Both you and the Assessor may present comparable sales to the State Board different than those presented to the County Board of Equalization. However, both parties must provide any new comparable sales or other supporting documents to the State Board and to the other party in compliance with the Prehearing Order Establishing Procedural Dates, which is sent at the time your case is acknowledged.
Select sale properties that sold closest to your assessment date and are the most comparable to your property.
Property owners in King County can receive additional assistance by contacting the office of the King County Tax Advisor at 206-296-5202.
For each comparable sale be sure to include the account number or parcel number of the property, the address of the property, the date of the sale, and the sale price. Also include as much information regarding the key characteristics of the property as you feel necessary to support your opinion of value.
- Location – sales in the same subdivision or neighborhood are the best evidence.
- Unit of Comparison – lot size; acreage; square feet; waterfront feet.
- Desirable or Undesirable Features – view or waterfront, access problems or wetlands Sewer/Septic System/Water System.
- Type of construction – wood; brick; other.
- Square feet of total finished living area (all floors).
- Year built.
- Number of stories.
- Improvement type and construction quality.
- Building condition.
- Number of bedrooms/bathrooms.
- Appraisals prepared by others.
- Documentation by qualified experts concerning problems.
- Written commercial estimates of the cost to cure problems.
- Photographs, maps.
- Any evidence you wish to be considered must be submitted to the Board by the deadlines given.
See Cone v. Pacific County Assessor, Docket No. 55169 (2000).
Income capitalization or sales comparison approaches are usually given more weight than a cost approach for commercial properties.
Your income capitalization approach should be based upon market conditions. Income and expenses of the property under appeal may also be used. Income, expenses, and capitalization rates must be verifiable and supported. See Regency Park v. Spokane County Assessor, Docket No. 38041 (1990).
You should provide a copy of your income and expense statement and all leases pertinent to the property. If the income or expenses of the property under appeal vary from typical market income and expenses, you must show why such variations are reasonable or typical for the property.