By Eric Heinz
With property taxes slated to rise by double-digit percentages throughout Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis recently announced a ballot initiative for November with a 10-year plan to try to significantly reduce the increase.
Residential property in the Denver metropolitan area experienced value increases between 35% and 45%, according to Denver Assessor Keith Erffmeyer, as did other regions throughout Colorado. One of the reasons property taxes are expected to rise so much is because as Colorado’s property values were assessed at the peak of the market-sale price from the end of June 2022, the accompanying assessments shot up by double-digit percentages.
Part of the increases can be attributed to the repeal of what was known as the Gallagher Amendment, which was repealed by voters in 2020. That law reduced residential property taxes while relying on other property taxes to make up the difference.
According to Polis, residents will vote on the package, named Proposition HH, in November that would provide long-term reductions to property tax rates with immediate savings on property taxes this year.
The proposal, because it addresses taxes, must go to the voters, per Colorado’s Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights. The bill for the ballot initiative was introduced recently as SB23-303. If the proposal passes, combined with reductions previously passed, it would cut the average homeowner’s tax increase in half, saving $1,264 on average over the next two years. In total, this package would provide between $900 million and $1.6 billion annually in property tax relief for homeowners and businesses in Colorado.
“At the same time, we all want to make sure we don’t defund our schools or ambulances or fire districts while we’re providing property tax relief,” Polis said during a recent press conference. “Because of Colorado’s strong economy and record surplus, we’re able to do both. We’re able to reduce property taxes and we’re able to ensure that we don’t harm our ability to fund our (public necessities).”
Other property tax relief and protections proposed in the governor’s plan include:
• Reducing the residential assessment rate from 7.15% to 6.7% in 2023 and 2024, and continuing this reduction for primary residences (not second homes or investment properties) in future years.
• Reducing the taxable value of residences by $40,000 in 2023 and 2024, and continuing this reduction for primary residences (not second homes or investment properties) in future years.
• Capping the growth in district property tax collections excluding school districts at inflation and allowing local governments to override the cap after giving notice to property owners.
• Protecting funding for public education and backfill revenue to fire districts, water districts, ambulance and hospital districts in areas of the state that aren’t growing as fast by dedicating a portion of the state TABOR surplus to backfill.
• Providing seniors who currently receive the Homestead Exemption a larger reduction of $140,000 and allowing them to continue to receive this reduction if they move. Notices of property valuation were mailed to property owners as of May 1.
Erffmeyer said property owners should visit the assessor’s website to research sales that occurred in their area during the statutory timeframe. An appeal can be filed between May 1 and June 8 at cdola.colorado.gov/assessment-appeals.
Certified property values are one part of a three-part equation to determine property taxes. The assessment rate, determined by the state Legislature, and the tax rate (or mill levy), set by the various taxing authorities, are the other core components of property taxes.
Residents will not know the amount of their property taxes due for 2024 until the end of the year when both the tax rate and the assessment rate are set, according to the Assessor’s Office.