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November 09, 2023 11:29 AM UTC

Gov. Polis Calls Property Tax Relief Special Session

  • by: Colorado Pols

UPDATE: Democratic legislative leaders weigh in on the upcoming special session:

“We always knew that if Proposition HH failed, property taxes would rise dramatically for thousands of Coloradans, which would make Colorado’s cost of living even more out of reach for so many,” said Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “The voters had their say about a long-term, comprehensive approach. Our caucus will now be laser-focused on providing short-term relief to those who are most vulnerable to the rising cost of living – which means working families, renters, and those on fixed incomes – while protecting our schools and fire districts.”

“We have a responsibility to deliver real results on the issues that matter most to Coloradans, and that’s what we’ll do in this special session as we continue working to address the rising cost of living,” said Speaker Julie McCluskie, D-Dillon. “With rising property values leading to unaffordable tax increases, our goal is to responsibly provide real relief to the people who need it most while protecting schools, fire districts and libraries. In this special session, we will work to boost support for renters and working people and deliver urgent property tax relief for Coloradans.”


In Gov. Jared Polis’ inimitable style this morning, a special session of the Colorado General Assembly has been called to address the issue of property tax relief and refunds payable under the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, both subjects of the legislature-referred measure Proposition HH that failed by a substantial margin at the polls this week:

We’ll update with reactions and updates as they come in. Special sessions can be a lot of things, but rarely dull.


10 thoughts on “Gov. Polis Calls Property Tax Relief Special Session

  1. The last legislator I heard talking about the budget began by referencing the limits the Joint Budget Committee had from the September 2023 estimate:  “Focus Colorado presents forecasts for the economy and state government revenue through FY 2024-25.” The following comes from Table 1 on page 6.

    Scenario B: Projected Obligations Based on Current Law

    This scenario includes budget requests approved to date (primarily K-12 and Medicaid); inflationary increases for higher education institutions and financial aid; estimated changes in employee compensation and community provider rates; capital construction and IT capital projects approved to date; and State Architect recommendations for controlled maintenance.

    Amount in Excess or (Deficit) of 15% Reserve Requirement $23.4 million

    Not sure what sort of accounting options are available to find more money for “property tax relief.”

  2. So, targeted property valuation reductions for primary-residence homeowners below given income levels, coupled with allowing rent control (oh heck yeah I went there). Means-tested tax relief could keep the hit to local governments and districts lower so the state won't have to raid its reserves quite as much for backfill, while rent control would provide better renter's relief than some sort of separate rebate program in which the state in essence subsidizes private profits. 

    And I know – not all landlords are bad.  

    1. Amen, 2Jung! The special session had better impose a hefty luxury tax on second home owners, too. That'll teach them to vote against a good deal when they had the chance.

    1. 2023 property tax bills are not mailed until 2024.

      Taxing jurisdictions typically set their mill rates in November/December. The mill levy is certified by the county commissioners on or about December 15th. The taxes are actually levied by around December 22nd. The treasurer then sends out the bills after January 1st.

      Notices of Valuation went out months ago. The NOV includes an estimate of taxes based on last year's mill levy. But nothing says that the mill levy won't go down–if total taxable property has increased 150%, the mill levy should theoretically decrease by one-third to maintain a level budget. Of course, there is going to be an increase, it should be TABOR-capped.

  3. The legislature has, basically, two choices: cap property tax increases on an annual basis or don't.

    If the General Assembly won't do this, the voters will. That is the reality. There is already an initiative in the works to accomplish the goal.

    And most voters will not hesitate to cap property tax increases on a year-to-year basis, probably somewhere at 2-5%.

    The legislature has the chance to get out in front of this issue – again – after writing Prop HH, which was just too difficult for most voters to understand and which was demagogued by the anti-tax crazies.

    By the way, this is a progressive view I am expressing here. Higher property taxes means more expensive housing and less affordable housing. They mean greater financial stresses on our elderly and on those who, for other reasons, are experiencing economic duress.

    Better that local governments and school districts live within a strict limit of annual increases in property tax revenues than cause those people, and the rest of us, more harm.

  4. I don't understand something about this. The idea with HH was that I would pay less in property taxes and more in income taxes. Granted, it was retaining TABOR refunds but no refund == more in taxes.

    So why the dire need to change? Does this change significantly change the total tax payout for different categories of people? I can see how retired people win because they pay property tax and don't have a job (income tax). But a lot of retired people do have income – from their investments. And in their retirement they're generally cashing them out and that's income.

    So – what's the big difference?

    1. I think HH was attempting to rebalance the tax burden that was going to hit residential property particularly hard, with a particular focus on helping seniors and lower valued homeowners (the portable homestead deduction and the $50,000 flat reduction in valuation). And of course to backfill the lost revenue to schools and fire districts as best they could via reserves and general revenue.

      Where it got tripped up was that it wasn't revenue-neutral due to increasing the amount that could be retained above what TABOR currently allows.  Not everyone likes to play with a Rubik's Cube.

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