Portland Property Taxes to Rise in 2020

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Portland property tax payments are due November 15. For most homeowners, the bill will be more than it was last year. But if you were one of the many Portland homeowners whose property values stayed the same or even went down in 2019, wouldn’t it make sense that your property taxes would also go stay the same or go down? Unfortunately, it often doesn’t work that way in Portland. 

How Portland Property Taxes are Figured

To understand why Portland property taxes go up every year nearly regardless of real estate values, let’s take a quick look at how taxes are usually calculated. The standard way is to multiply the value of your home by the property tax rate for your area of the county.

But Oregon’s system of property taxes was modified by a 1997 bill that actually uncoupled property taxes from the actual value of homes. Instead, Oregon pegs the taxable (or “assessed”) value of a home to its 1995 value, plus 3% every year. 

Real estate values were going up pretty quickly in the mid-90s, but today in 2019 we have a cooling real estate market, which is expected to continue into 2020. That means that your home’s value may stay the same this year, or even go down a little bit, but in the parallel universe of Oregon property taxes, the value is still going up 3%. But assessed value still has a long way to go to catch up to real market value. According to Metro, the current average assessed value of a Portland home is just $231,000. 

Portland Bonds and Levies Increase Property Taxes Today, 2020, and beyond.

The value of your home used to calculate your taxes is one side of the equation; the other side is the rate at which your home is taxed. Every time voters pass a new bond or levy to provide services to the City of Portland, they end up paying more in property taxes — and some of these funds take decades to pay off. 

One long-lasting bond is, ironically, a measure that Portland voters approved last year for affordable housing. The total amount to be raised through property taxes is nearly $653 million over the course of 30 years. In 2019, property taxes to pay for this bond will go up by 24 cents per $1,000 in assessed value for Portland homes in each of the three counties. That comes out to about $60 for a home with an assessed value of of $250,000.

This property tax burden is in addition to the bonds and levies already on the bill. Per $1,000 of assessed value, property owners in Portland pay several cents to Metro for parks, natural areas and water quality. Property taxes in 2019 will also go toward paying for new school construction costs and school operating levies.

Getting Help with Property Taxes in 2020

Whether you live in Washington, Clackamas, or Multnomah County, there are FAQs and numbers to call to get help understanding your property tax bill. Just visit your county’s website. 

For tax history in Multnomah county, go to TaxGraph. Whether you own a home or you’re home shopping, this is a useful resource to look up any address in Portland for its tax history. 

Property tax payers in Portland do have the right to appeal if they feel that the county got things wrong on their bill. Multnomah County taxpayers can find the forms online. Homeowners in other counties should visit their County Clerk’s office. 

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