There is a considerable amount of conversation around property taxes, both for residents and businesses, especially in Colorado. The reason for this is that all property in Colorado has experienced a tremendous amount of appreciation over the past few years, and since property taxes are based, in part, on market value, we are all looking at a large property tax increase. The next assessment, which is done every two years, is set to be applied in 2023 for tax bills to be paid in 2024. State legislators from both sides of the aisle along with the Governor recognize that this could be a cliff that we cannot withstand falling off.

A little background first on how property taxes are calculated. In Jefferson County, we have an elected county assessor, and it is his (Scot Kersgaard is the current assessor) job to assess the value of each piece of property. That is the first determinant of everyone’s property taxes. The second factor is the assessment rate that is set by the state legislature is currently at 6.765 percent for residential property and 27.9 percent for commercial property for tax year 2023, which is payable in 2024. The final factor to impact how much we each pay is the mills set by the different taxing authorities such as the school district, fire district, water district and recreation district.

Legislators have introduced two bills that would address this issue and they are each working their way through this session with a solution hopefully mapped out before session closes in May. The first is Senate Bill 108, which would allow taxing authorities to lower their mills in response to the much higher property values. While this is technically already permissible by law, many districts fear that if the mills are lowered, they would not be able to raise the mills back to the prior levels under a strict definition of TABOR law. This bill would codify into law the raising of the mills back to the previous levels at a later time without having to go back to the taxpayers.

Another potential solution has been introduced in House Bill 1054, which would allow for a two-year pause of the property tax assessment. This would skip the 2023 reassessment year, keeping property taxes where they are today for two more years. If implemented, taxes would be assessed based on the value of a property as of June 30, 2020, not June 30, 2023. While some fear this is simply kicking the can down the road, others contend that it would provide time to have the conversation about long-term property tax reform.

You can track the progress of any bill introduced at the State House by simply Googling the bill number.

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