The tax parcel number identifies a parcel just kind of like your social security number identifies you. The assessor is the one who assigns the tax ID number to the property and when an additional segregation is done on a property, the assessor is the one who assigns the new numbers. The assessor has appraisers who go out and appraise the property and then they assess a value and then whatever the rate of tax is in that area, they do the math with the value and you come up with the amount that’s due for the taxes. The treasurer’s job is to collect it. There are two types of tax numbers. There is one for platted land and one for unplatted land and that’s how the county specifies it—platted and unplatted.
Platted Tax Numbers
Platted tax numbers are fairly simple. There are 14 numbers in every tax number and the way it breaks down is that a plat is given a major number which refers to the first 6 numbers in the parcel number. A good example is, say, 004391. That’s the first 6 numbers, so 004391 identifies a plat at the county.
And then the next set of numbers is a sequence of three numbers that identifies the block in the plat. If it’s a really, really big plat it will be broken up into blocks, so for example if the number is 004391 – 767 you know that in that plat, when you’re looking at the map you’ll find the plat on the map and then you’ll find block 767 on the map based on that number or 2, 3, 4 all the way through. If it’s a new plat and there are only 50 lots it will not be broken up into blocks, so that sequence will just be 000. And then the next set of numbers is a sequence of three numbers that identifies the lot. So if the first 12 digits in a parcel number are 004391 – 767 – 019 we know that the parcel is lot 19 in block 767 of that plat. And then the last set of numbers is a sequence of 2 numbers that is for an additional segregation or an additional purpose of a tax number.
Say someone has a senior exemption that will be reflected in the parcel number. A senior exemption would typically be on a larger piece of property, say a 3 acre piece that’s in a plat, so it would be 00439176701900, that would identify lot 19 and then for the additional segregation for the senior exemption, they would have the same number again, but with 01 at the end. That allows them to have a little bit of a break on a part of the property. Or, say someone had built a shop on their property and they wanted to give that a separate tax number–they built it at a later date so it would be 00439176701900 for the house and then the same sequence, but ending in 01 would flag the shop. It would be a separate tax bill.
Or yet another reason you would see the last sequence of numbers used could be say lot 19 in that plat was short platted later on into 2 lots or 3 lots, then more than likely the last five digits of the parcel numbers would be 01901, 01902, 01903. In a lot of the Alderwood plats, they may be broken up as many as 20 times, so you could see plat numbers ending 01916, 03217, you could go up to 99 if there was enough room to do that. That’s a platted Tax ID number.
With a condominium if the number was 00590700103201, the 001 would mean it is in Building A and 032 would signify that it is Unit 32 and the last two digits, 01, indicate that for some reason, having to do with the assessor there is an exemption of some kind—perhaps a senior exemption or maybe a low income exemption. So the first 6 digits is the identifier of either a plat or a condominium.
Unplatted Tax Numbers
Unplatted tax numbers will usually be for an acreage piece of property, more the R5 type of zoning, but you do see them in town where there have been plats all around, but then some of this land hasn’t been platted. An unplatted tax number does not mean that it is rural property; just that it hasn’t been platted.
In an unplatted tax number, the first six numbers identify the township, the range and the section number (It used to be that it was section, township and range but the configuration has been readjusted). An example could be as follows: If the first six digits are 280519, then the property is in township 28, range 05, and section 19. Then the next set of three numbers is either going to be 001 or 002 or 003 or 004. The 1, 2, 3, or 4 will indicate which quarter of the section the parcel is in. Northeast is 1, northwest is 2, southwest is 3 and southeast is 4, going in a counterclockwise direction.
The next set of three numbers will identify the specific property. Agents can see this when they order a listing package or look at an assessor’s plat map–looking at the map, they will see a 3-023, so the 23 identifies the specific parcel. If the first twelve digits are 280519003023, then the parcel is number 23 in the southwest quarter of section 19, in township 28, range 5.
The last two numbers of the tax parcel number identify an additional segregation or additional buildings on the property and, in the outlying rural areas; you might see it for an open space classification of some sort. So someone might have 00 at the end of a one parcel number and 01 at the end of a second number. The 00 would refer to their house, their shop and 1 acre, but they’ve got a 5 acre piece of land, so the 01 refers to the other 4 acres which is all wooded and is in open space. Typically there’s going to be quite a difference in tax that they’ll pay on the 00 as compared to the 01.
The two tax numbers do not refer to two separate parcels, that’s where a lot of people can get confused. They see the two separate tax numbers so they assume there must be two tax lots, or a different piece may have 5 tax numbers, so they assume there are 5 lots in the parcel, but that’s not always the case. You can have as many tax numbers for whatever reason for your property, but that doesn’t mean that you have that many lots.
A good example is given by the story of what happened with a specific 20 acre parcel. In 1986 they did survey and divided the parcel into four 5 acre plots. The husband and wife lived in a house on the 5 acres at the top and the other three 5 acre plots were vacant. Then they got a divorce and the wife was awarded the 15 acres down below. The way she was awarded the 15 acres, it made it all back into one parcel. The only way that can happen is through probates or divorce, things can be awarded that way–so that it turned it back into one 15 acre piece in the eyes of the county, even though it still had the 3 tax numbers and the real estate agent assumed there were three lots there. Eventually they were able to get it broken back up, but it took quite a process to do so.
Additional segregation could be another building or another house. It’s not so common today with two buildings or homes on one piece of property, but for example, in Everett there are quite a few lots that have two houses on them. If you pull up one of those lots and find there to be two tax numbers on it–an 00 and an 01 or an 01 and an 02 because of the additional house that is on the lot. Also, with a commercial piece of property, say it’s one, three acre parcel–it’s one parcel, but there are 7 apartment buildings on it and there are different tax numbers for each building–tax numbers that are identical except for the last two digits that are 01, 02, 03, 04 etc., just to cover the buildings, but it’s all under one piece of property, just with different tax numbers. So each building is assessed at a different rate and value.