With May being celebrated as “Older Americans Month” the receipt of new residential property valuation notices this week might seem to cast a shadow on area seniors. In the tight Chaffee County housing market, valuations often go up (and sometimes a lot). But this year there may be some good news for older Americans – at least here in Colorado.
Each year, Real Property Notice of Valuation forms are mailed to residential and commercial property owners on May 1. These notices show the “actual value” of property as claimed by the Chaffee County Assessor for the current tax year. The values shown (unless protested timely) form the basis of calculating tax bills that are mailed in early January of the following year.
Chaffee County Assessor Brenda Mosby advises that with 2022 being an “even” year and valuations, by state law performed only every other year, people will not see a different valuation unless there is a change of use or significant change to the parcel itself. And, for this year there are two additional pieces of good news. The first is that the residential assessment rate (applied to the actual value to generate a tax bill) has dropped slightly from 7.15 percent to 6.95 percent.
The second positive item is that the Senior Property Tax “Homestead Exemption” is available. It can help seniors reduce their residential property taxes – IF, an application is submitted before July 15. Once qualified, 50 percent of the first $200,000 of actual value of the applicant’s primary residence is exempted.
(The State of Colorado reimburses the Chaffee County Treasurer for the “lost revenue” that results from your lowered tax bill.) Once granted, an exemption will be applied to the tax bill you receive in January. You do not have to reapply again, unless your life circumstances or property ownership change.
“It’s difficult to tell people what the ‘average’ impact is for a property in a given year. Valuations vary widely and the mill levy changes too, but it IS well worthwhile to apply,” Mosby said.
The one-page “Short Form: Property Tax Exemption For Seniors” is quick to complete and the qualifications are simple. There is no “means test” or limit of income to qualify.
To be eligible, you must:
1. Be 65 years or older as of January 1 of the year for which you seek the exemption.
2. Be the current owner of record and have owned the property for at least ten (10) years prior to January 1 of the tax year for which you seek the exemption.
3. Occupy the property as your primary residence and have done so for at least ten (10) consecutive years prior to January 1 of this year.
The form only requires the owner’s name and Social Security Number, along with property information that is printed on a Valuation Notice or tax bill. Additional persons who occupy the property as their principal residence also need to be identified on the form.
Many local residents have owned and occupied their homes for many years and with a large population of seniors in Chaffee County (approximately 25 percent), the exemption can make a difference. With such an easy process, seniors are urged to “not leave any money on the table” – take a few minutes to request a form, fill it out, drop it off (or mail it with a return receipt) and enjoy the benefit that is due to you.
Since 2006, a Colorado Constitutional amendment has extended the senior exemption to disabled veterans. The deadline for this is earlier – July 1, and a separate process is used for veterans exemptions.
If you are a senior and have more complex life circumstances, a “Long Form” application may be used. A phone call to the Assessor Office can address an individual’s specific circumstances and questions.
Application forms may be requested to be sent from the Chaffee County Assessor office or picked up in person at the County Courthouse, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. You are encouraged to apply now and avoid any last-minute rush in July.
For more information, contact:
Chaffee County Assessor
P.O. Box 699
104 Crestone Ave.
Salida, CO 81201