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Colorado lawmakers to consider major property tax plan as session nears end

The lawmaker behind the proposal says the plan is still being finalized and will be introduced next week
state senator chris hansen.jpg
Posted at 9:07 PM, Apr 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-26 23:07:01-04

DENVER — With the deadline to adjourn quickly approaching, Colorado lawmakers are set to consider a major property tax relief proposal.

A draft proposal by State Sen. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, centers around allowing homeowners to exempt 10% of their home’s value up to $75,000. But as Hansen noted in a property tax commission hearing on Friday, there are still many details to work out.

"There's no introduced legislation at this stage,” Hansen said. “We’re working toward that goal, of course, to introduce something next week."

The property tax commission, which is comprised of state, county, and local officials, was created during November’s special session and tasked with the mission of finding long-term solutions to skyrocketing property tax increases.

Scott Wasserman with the Bell Policy Center, a liberal-leaning think tank, has watched the property tax commission’s work closely over the last several months. He said it’s important lawmakers provide targeted property tax relief.

“The important thing is that we not use a sledgehammer and a scalpel is needed,” said Wasserman. “We're really trying to make sure that low- and middle-income families that own homes aren't strained. I think once you start to get into the higher home values, it becomes a different conversation.”

He said before lawmakers pass any tax relief plan, they’ll have to figure out how to pay for it.

“Anybody can just cut taxes, right? I think the question is, how do we make sure that those cuts don’t go to the public services that people care about,” said Wasserman.

Wasserman said he’s concerned about property tax plans by conservative groups outside the legislature, which he believes will hurt public services.

One of them, Initiative 50, will appear on November’s ballot. Right now, it’s the only property tax proposal that has been approved for the ballot.

“Initiative 50 would set a 4% cap on how much property taxes can go up each year statewide, and if you want to go above that, it would allow voter approval to do that,” said Michael Fields with Advanced Colorado. “This is the long-term solution is to make sure that we don't see these spikes in property taxes every other year.”

Wasserman has proposed ballot measures that he believes would work as counterweights should voters approve Initiative 50.

“One of them would create a luxury tax on homes valued over $5 million. That can produce revenue to pay for cuts property tax cuts. Another one says maybe we should be able to use the TABOR surplus to backfill local districts.”

The property tax proposal that lawmakers are set to consider is just one of hundreds of bills they’ll have to work through before they adjourn on May 8.

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