DENVER — After a year of eye-popping increases in assessed property values, counties across Colorado are reporting an increased number of challenges to those assessments, and an average of 20-25 percent of those challenges end up favoring property owners, resulting in a decrease of valuation.
Under Colorado law, residential properties are assessed every two years on odd years. The assessed value is then multiplied by 6.95 percent (note this is a temporary number due to a 2021 bill in the state legislature. Next year that amount goes back up to the 7.15 percent assessment amount frozen after the Gallager Amendment was repealed in 2020). That value is then multiplied by the mill rates of local taxing authorities to determine the amount of taxes due.
For example, a home within the boundaries of Greeley Evans School District 6 valued at $400,000 would see a tax bill of about $1,400 to the school district alone, based on the district’s mill rate of 50.399. That does not include all the other taxing districts any one property may face, such as local municipalities, water districts, fire authorities, library districts, etc.
Property taxes have seen a steady increase since the Gallagher Amendment was repealed in 2020. Gallagher was a complicated property tax assessment formula that put 55 percent of the burden for taxes on nonresidential (commercial) property owners and the other 45 percent on residential property. When residential property values exceeded the 45 percent mark, the assessment value was reduced, eventually to its current 7.15 percent. The repeal of Gallagher ended the 45-55 ratio and froze the residential rate at 7.15 percent.
This year, property assessments have increased by nearly 40 percent and more across the state, meaning large increases in property taxes are looming for 2024, leading to a record number of challenges in some counties.
The increases come as Governor Polis tries to pass Proposition HH under the guise of property tax relief, while those opposed say it means an eventual end to Taxpayer‘s Bill of Rights (TABOR) refunds, and allows the state to collect $12.5 billion in new taxes over the next decade, among other things.
According to the Littleton Independent, 37 percent of the Douglas County residents, where valuation increases ranged from 30-60 percent, “saw some relief” after their challenges. And in Arapahoe County, it was 23 percent, where property increased on average by 42 percent.
Douglas County processed 36,000 appeals, more than double from 2009, the Independent reported. And Arapahoe County processed 31,000 appeals, more than three times that in 2019.
Sky-Hi News reported that Grand County saw a record number of protests — 4,258 — while Eagle and Summit Counties saw more than 7,000 protests. Grand County granted 1,803, or 42 percent, of the appeals.
Jefferson County Assessor Scot Kersgaard told Complete Colorado that of the 218,900 properties evaluated there, 28,182 appeals were filed, and 6,204, or 22 percent, were reduced.
In Weld County, Assessor Brenda Dones said she saw fewer successful challenges than in past years. However, of the 188,000 assessed properties, 10,891 were appealed and approximately 3,811 were successful, or 35 percent.
She added that about 1,000 more appeals that were denied are moving on to the Board of Equalization for appeal, but did not have an opinion as to why the success rate in Weld County was down. Assessed values there rose by $6 billion, or a 36 percent increase over 2022.
At least one Weld County resident sees the problem a bit differently.
“I’m not worried about the value of my house going up,” said Christina Lara. “It should go up. That’s what we want in our homes. But we have to work on the real problem, and that is lowering the number of mills. That is the real relief.”
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