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Appealing Colorado’s Property Tax Valuation

Colorado property owners have received their 2019 Real Property Notice of Valuation from their County Assessor, or will be receiving it shortly.

Pursuant to Colorado law, the Assessor values all real property in the county every two years. Except for valuations issued during the Great Recession, the Assessor’s valuation almost always goes up.

Property owners have the right to dispute the Assessor valuation, and the right to dispute the Assessor classification of the property (for example, if the Assessor has classified a property as residential, where the taxpayer believes the property is agricultural).

The deadline to file a dispute is June 1st. However, this year June 1st is a Saturday, so pursuant to statute the appeal is timely if postmarked or delivered on the next business day (June 3rd).

Pursuant to the Colorado Constitution (“Gallagher” or “the Gallagher Amendment”), different types of property are taxed at different “assessed values,” which is a percentage of the actual value. The assessment ratio for residential properties varies but is currently 7.2%. For all other property types (except agricultural land) the ratio is 29%.

This means that a commercial property, for example, pays over four times the amount of property taxes compared to a residential property with the same value.

The mill levy, or actual tax applied to the assessed value, varies throughout the county, based on taxing districts (for example, which school district the property belongs to). However, in Steamboat Springs, residential properties pay around $350 in property taxes per $100,000 in actual property value, while commercial and other property types pay around $1,500 per $100,000 in actual property value.

As such, it is generally not worthwhile to contest the valuation of residential property, unless the owner believes the valuation is wildly overstated. However, if the owner believes that the Assessor has incorrectly classified an agricultural property as residential, it likely makes sense to dispute the classification.

Due to the increased tax rate for non-residential properties (commercial, industrial, etc), it more often makes economic sense for the owner to contest a valuation they disagree with.

George M. Eck III is a Steamboat Springs based lawyer who can assist with all property tax related matters.
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