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Senior property tax exemption back

A tax break for senior property owners that was suspended in 2003 is back. This year the Colorado legislature has funded the Senior Homestead Tax Exemption Program which provides property tax relief for seniors who have owned and lived in their homes for 10 years.According the Garfield County Assessor Shannon Hurst, qualifying seniors can receive 50 percent off their tax bill for the first $200,000 of the actual value of their property.To qualify, seniors must be 65 years or older as of Jan. 1, 2006; must be the current property owner of record and have owned the property for at least 10 years and must occupy the property as their primary residence.”The state pays the counties back” for the uncollected property tax, Hurst said.Currently, the tax exemption will apply to taxes due in 2007, but Hurst said she expects the exemption to be permanent until or if the legislature suspends funding.Those applying for the exemption may not meet the primary qualifications, but the state recognizes some exceptions. Seniors may also qualify if property ownership is in their spouse’s name and the spouse also occupies the property; if ownership has been transferred to or purchased by a trust, a corporate partnership or other legal entity solely for estate planning purposes; if the qualifying senior is in a health care facility; if the property was condemned and the person was forced to move or if the applicant is the surviving spouse of a person who previously qualified.Two forms can be used for application, and both are available on the county assessor’s Web site, http://www.garfield-county.com.One or the other form will be appropriate depending on one’s qualifications, Hurst said. The short form can be used by those who meet the three primary qualifications. The long form must be used by those who meet one or more of the exceptions.Anyone whose application was accepted by the county assessor’s office during 2002 does not need to apply again, Hurst said, “unless something has changed like the property has been sold.”Applications for an exemption to 2007 taxes are due July 17.Forms can be printed on the assessor’s Web site but must be either hand delivered or mailed to Shannon Hurst, Garfield County Assessor, 109 Eighth Street, Suite 207, Glenwood Springs, CO 81601.”I’ll be happy to help them (fill out the forms),” Hurst said.


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