Seniors feel the pain of King County's property tax increase

SEATTLE – Bringing City Hall to West Seattle, Mayor Jenny Durkan addressed the concern for affordable housing directly from those affected by King County’s property tax increase.

"At some point, you can only put so much tax burden on us ‘till we break,” said one woman in the audience.

The property tax increase is especially hurting seniors who live on a fixed income. They’re now hit with taxes they never saw coming when they first bought their homes.

"They didn’t realize that it would go up this much. The increase can be anywhere from 9% to 30% in King County. That’s significant,” said Angelina Wallent, managing broker with John L. Scott.

She says this tax increase is dramatic and it’s affecting her clients. Wallent says in 2012 she helped a long time friend close on a home where she put roots, raised her children, but this year’s property tax increase is causing her to change her address.

"She can’t afford these property taxes. The mortgage she qualified for wasn’t very large at the time, in 2012, she could afford it then. Now she can’t,” said Wallent.

Wallent says her friend is packing boxes and moving to the mid-west, a reality she never imagined just five years ago. She says moves like this are happening with her clients more frequently.

“I’ve had people go to Walla Walla, consider eastern Washington,” said Wallent.

Keeping people from moving is something Durkan addressed at the forum, saying she’ll work with Olympia so people won’t break from the tax burden.

“We’re working with Olympia to raise the amount that people living on fixed income or seniors cannot pay property taxes. We really want to make sure we keep seniors in place,” said Durkan.

Figuring out how they’ll stay in place is something Wallent says will affect day to day living.

“If all of sudden there are thousands of dollars you have to come up with for your property taxes, maybe that’s a vacation you might not take,” said Wallent.