A bipartisan bill designed to offer property tax relief on business and residential properties throughout Colorado could soon be headed to Gov. Jared Polis after drawing near unanimous approval from both chambers.
There are some, though, who see it as an overstep by the state legislature.
Senate Bill 22-238 would allow the average homeowner to save about $274 in 2023, a summary of the bill reads, and would prevent most business owners from experiencing a tax increase.
That projection is based on a $500,000 home value. The average home value in Morgan County is now about $300,000, Realtor Stacey Martindale said, meaning that while it is equitable, Eastern Colorado homeowners will realize about $100 less in savings than their Front Range neighbors. The bill provides $700 million in tax relief over two years.
“Rising property values bring a price tag of higher property taxes. I dislike taxes in general, but property taxes are the worst kind of tax,” said Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Castle Rock, one the bill’s primary sponsors with Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Sen. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale.
The bill passed by a 33-2 vote in the Senate and Friday with unanimous approval in the House. Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, was one of two in the legislature to oppose, a decision he said weighed heavily when considering his constituents.
“People are paying higher property taxes because of the increased valuations,” Sonnenberg said. “The county commissioners have the power to mitigate those increases and should do so rather than a one-size-fits-all state approach.”
In concurrence between the House and Senate legislation before sending the bill to the governor, Sonnenberg supported the legislation, again weighing the opportunity for tax relief on property owners in his district, he said.
“The legislation we passed will prevent tax increases on many small businesses,” Weissman said. “It builds on our earlier work to lower property taxes for homeowners and businesses.”
The bill allocates $500 million in 2023 to reduce the residential property tax from 6.95 percent to 6.76 percent and the nonresidential property tax rate from 29 percent to 27.9 percent. The bill also reduces the taxable value for residential properties by $15,000 and commercial properties by $30,000.
While she supports property tax relief because of valuations that have increased drastically, its a local control issue, Martindale said, better left to elected officials who understand local budget constraints.
“People are paying higher property tax because of rising valuations, but I feel it needs to be left up to the county commissioners to make the decision,” Martindale said.
An additional $200 million will be committed in 2024 to extend property tax relief in the shell game of increasing valuations on homeowners and then reducing taxes.
Rising expenses in the current economy make tax relief reasonable, Neville said.
“Lowering property taxes will help with the inflationary pressures families are experiencing and is much needed in Colorado,” he said.
Added Weissman: “We’ve been hard at work saving Coloradans money everywhere we can.”
House Bill 22-1416, related to reforming property tax assessments by Majority Leader Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Neville, also unanimously passed the House. The bill requires assessors to provide property owners with an estimate of their tax liability as well as information about how they can protest their assessed property values, which many counties already do. It would also allow for fast tracking of appeals and would require publishing of the assessor’s handbook, which details procedures used in the appraisal process.