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What the governor's property tax proposal could mean for homeowners

Metro Denver assessors call increase in property values historic, but fear high property taxes
Posted at 9:17 AM, May 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-03 11:17:12-04

DENVER — Colorado homeowners were put on notice that the hot real estate market over the past few years was about to drive next year’s property taxes up.

County assessors said many were looking at an increase in home valuations of 45% or more and called on state leaders to act and shield taxpayers from dramatic tax increases.

Governor Jared Polis and several state legislators unveiled a proposal on Monday, May 1, to lower the cost burden for property owners over ten years, while also making small cuts to Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) refund checks.

To find out what this proposal could mean in practical terms, our Denver 7 partners pulled numbers from Douglas County records to create a hypothetical homeowner who owns a median-priced home.

In June 2020, this home would have cost $545,000. By June 2022, county officials estimate the home would be worth approximately $780,000, a 43% increase. This homeowner would be looking at a tax increase of about $2,152 under current law.

Proposed changes, if adopted by lawmakers and voters in November, would allow taxpayers to deduct $40,000 from their appraised value, and would also decrease the tax rate slightly to 6.7% (from 6.765%). This would bring the total projected tax increase down to $1,858 — about $300 less than current projections.

Denver7 spoke with Jefferson County Assessor Scot Kersgaard about this tax change proposal. He said his office has been busy speaking with policymakers and concerned residents about the increased property valuations.

“People are always unhappy when they think their taxes are going to go up, so that’s a given,” said Kersgaard. “Sometimes they’re very angry, and we get calls like, 'How dare you raise our taxes? Don’t you know people are struggling?' We get a lot of appeals.”

Kersgaard wants to remind residents that there are additional ways for leaders to offer tax relief, particularly at the local level. Taxing authorities like school districts, fire districts, and more will set their mill levy rates later this year.

“If you’re looking at the historical tax trends in JeffCo — or anywhere in Colorado — the values may go up, [but] the taxes never go up as much as values. Almost never, because the taxing authorities lower their mill levies,” said Kersgaard. “They don’t need to increase their budget by 10%, 20%, or 30%, so they’ll cut the mills down to give them the budget they need. And so, even when values are going up, taxes don’t go up as much.”

There are affordability programs in Colorado aimed at helping with property taxes, along with programs that address needs like utilities, rent, and food.