Here’s how new Colorado legislation will impact your property taxes — with an asterisk or two

Elliott Wenzler
Post Independent
Gov. Jared Polis signs a property tax measure, Senate Bill 1, in his office Nov. 20.
Elliott Wenzler/Post Independent

After a special legislative session wrapped up at the Colorado Capitol last week, homeowners across the state are one step closer to knowing just how much their 2023 property taxes — which are due next year — will surge. 

Values across the state went up an average of about 40% after the COVID-19 pandemic, with rural resort communities such as Vail, Aspen, Steamboat Springs and Summit County seeing even higher increases. 

In an attempt to address that jump, Democrats in the state legislature placed Proposition HH — a complex tax measure that would have decreased property taxes and changed the state revenue cap set by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) — on the November ballot. It was overwhelmingly defeated by voters.

After its defeat, Gov. Jared Polis called lawmakers back to the Capitol for a special session to ask them to again address the issue. What resulted from the four-day session was seven new bills, including Senate Bill 1, which created some relief for property taxes due next year.

The bill provides the same relief that would have been offered under Proposition HH, but instead of using TABOR surplus money, which must be refunded to taxpayers, it uses general fund money. It’s also only a one-year fix, as opposed to Proposition HH, which would have lasted at least 10 years.

Senate Bill 1 decreased the state assessment rate to 6.7% from 6.765% and raised the amount of value that can be deducted from a home when calculating taxes to $55,000 from the already-existing $15,000 deduction.

Those changes are estimated to provide about $200 in savings for the average Colorado homeowner.

Polis signed the billl on Monday just a few hours after it was approved by the full legislature.

How the changes will impact Western Slope counties

Property taxes are calculated using three components: a home’s valuation, the state assessment rate and the amount of mill levies on the property. Mill levies are local taxes set by the various districts each home is located in, including schools, counties and fire districts. A mill is a $1 payment on every $1,000 of assessed value. 

Because of the changes happening at the state level, mill levies have not been certified, making it impossible to know exactly how residential property taxes will change. Using the previous year’s mill levies and estimations for this year, The Aspen Times calculated the estimated savings under Senate Bill 1 for $1 million homes in several Western Slope counties. (The savings can be doubled or halved to get a closer estimate for a $500,000 home or a $2 million home.)

  • Eagle County: Median mill levy last year of 75 mills; $250 in savings for a $1 million home under Senate Bill 1 
  • Summit County: Median mill levy last year of 78 mills; $260 in savings for a $1 million home under Senate Bill 1
  • Routt County: Median mill levy for this year estimated at 60 mills; $200 in savings for a $1 million home under Senate Bill 1

These figures can vary greatly depending on the total mill levy on a property. Homeowners can see the mill levies on their home from the previous tax year and the home’s latest valuation by looking at their property on their county assessor’s site.

To calculate one’s taxes once mills have been certified: Take the home’s valuation (minus the $55,000 in state deductions) and multiply it by the state assessment rate for the 2023 tax year, 6.7%, then multiply it by the total mill levies on the property (for 75 mills, 0.075 should be used). 

To find one’s savings from Senate Bill 1, follow the same calculation; only use $15,000 in deductions instead and 6.765% for the assessment rate. Then compare the two figures.

Elliott Wenzler is the Western Slope politics reporter for The Aspen Times and its sister publications in Glenwood Springs, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Summit County and Grand County.

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