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The board is wholly separate and apart from the Assessor's Office. They are comprised of 5 county residents appointed by the Whatcom County Council to 3 year terms. Board members are selected for their knowledge of real estate values and each member is required by law to attend an intensive training by Washington State Department of Revenue on the valuation of real property. Board members receive yearly continuing education from the Washington State Department of Revenue. The board is directed by state law (Revised Code of Washington, RCW, and Washington Administrative Code, WAC). A list of Whatcom County's current board members is available here.
The only way to appeal an Assessor’s valuation of your property is by timely filing a completed appeal petition with the Whatcom County Board of Equalization. There is no fee charged for filing an appeal. The appeal petition form must be used. A letter or phone call is not acceptable as a substitute for the petition form. You must submit separate petitions for each parcel. Petition forms are available from the Clerk of the Board, by phoning and requesting one at 360-778-5016, or the Assessor’s Office at 360-778-5050. You can also download a petition.
Appeal forms are available from the Clerk of the Board of Equalization at the Whatcom County Council Office, or online, or forms are available at the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office, both locations on the 1st floor, County Courthouse:311 Grand Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225. You may also call the Board of Equalization at (360) 778-5016.
The petition form has clear directions attached. Your properly completed petition must include specific reasons why you believe that the Assessor's valuation is not correct. The amount of tax, the percentage of assessment increase, personal hardship, and other matters unrelated to market value cannot, by law, be considered by the board. Include the parcel number of the property you are appealing. A separate petition must be completed for every individual parcel. Also include the Assessor's determination of value, other appraisal information, your estimate of value, recent sales of comparable properties, or other supporting information for your appeal. Statements that simply indicate the Assessor's valuation is too high or the amount of tax is too high are not sufficient evidence. All evidence should relate to the true and fair market value of your property. Be sure to indicate if you intend to submit additional evidence prior to the hearing. You must submit additional information at least 21 business days prior to your hearing. For purposes of scanning and records retention, please submit evidence in paper format no larger than 8 1/2" x 11", loosely bound with paperclips, binder clips, or rubber bands. Please do not use staples, dividers, tabs, or binders. If filing after July 1 a copy of the Assessor's Notice of Value must be included with the petition.
For the purposes of filing a complete appeal, as long as your petition includes sufficient information or statements to apprise the Board and the Assessor of the reasons why you believe the Assessor’s determination is incorrect, it is not necessary to include all the evidence you intend to use at the filing time. While it is recommended that you provide the evidence you will use as early as possible, additional evidence may be submitted up to 21 business days before your hearing.
The Board schedules hearings on a first come, first served basis. Accordingly, the scheduling of your hearing will depend on the volume of appeals and the timing of your petition filing. You will be notified by mail of your hearing date approximately 6 weeks, or more, in advance.
Documentary evidence (comparable sales, appraisals, estimates, photos, etc.) must be submitted to the Board at least 21 business days before the hearing.
You will receive a written decision from the Board within 45 days of the hearing. The Board can either raise, lower, or sustain the Assessor's value. Summaries of Board actions are available on the County Council's website.
Either the petitioner or the Assessor may appeal the Board’s decision to the State Board of Tax Appeals. An appeal must be filed with the State Board within 30 calendar days of the mailing date of our Board’s decision.
The State Board of Tax Appeals has the authority to sustain, lower or raise the value. (RCW84-08-060)Appeals to the board of tax appeals by any taxpayer or taxing unit concerning any action of the County Board of Equalization shall not raise the valuation of the property to an amount greater than the larger of either the valuation of the property by the county assessor or the valuation of the property assigned by the County Board of Equalization.
Appeal forms are available in the Whatcom County Council Office [(360) 778-5010] or may be obtained from the Board of Tax Appeals (360-753-5446) or online. You may also pay your property taxes "under protest", (consult with the Whatcom County Treasurer’s Office for direction) and petition the Superior Court for a refund by filing a lawsuit under RCW 84.68.020