Some Seniors Can Save Money on Property Taxes

There is an old saying you can “escape everything but dying and paying taxes”. For some seniors, while they may not be able to escape paying taxes, they may be able to reduce the amount of property taxes they owe each year on their primary residence.

The Colorado Senior Property Tax Homestead Exemption Program is available to all Coloradoans who are age 65 and over, who have lived in their primary residence for ten years or more, and who are the owner of record of the property for the past ten years. There are no income or resource guidelines to qualify for this program.

The Colorado legislature has re-authorized the Exemption Program for the next fiscal year from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017.

The primary residence is deemed based on such things as voter registration, driver’s license or Colorado ID address, motor vehicle registration and other state documents.

The Exemption Program reduces the amount of property taxes on the first $200,000 of value of the primary residence by 50%.

Thus if you live in a house that is worth $175,000 and your taxes are $2,000, you will pay only $1,000 and the State of Colorado will pay the balance to the county treasurer. If you live in a house that is worth $300,000 and your property taxes are $3,000, you will get a 50% reduction on the first $200,000 of value and your taxes will be reduced from $2,000 to $1,000. You will pay an additional $1,000 for the value between $200,000 and $300,000. Thus the net result is that your property tax bill will be reduced from $3000 per year to $2000 per year.

To apply for the program you may be able to complete the Short Form if you meet the above qualifications. The Short Form must be filed by July 15 with the county assessor’s office in the county where you live to qualify for a reduction in the amount of property taxes that are paid the following year. For example, you will need to file by July 15, 2016 to qualify for the reduction on the 2016 property taxes that are paid in 2017.

In completing the Short Form, you must answer “true” to all of the questions on the form, provide your social security number and that of your spouse (if applicable), sign and date the form and mail to the County Assessor’s office. If you answer “false” to any of the questions on the Short Form, you must complete the Long Form.

The Long Form is required for a surviving spouse in which the property would have qualified for the Exemption Program while the deceased spouse was alive and several other situations. The Long Form must also be filed by July 15 with the county assessor’s office.

Individuals who are confined to a nursing home or assisted living who are still in title to the home, continue to be eligible for the Exemption Program.

Disabled veterans who have a 100 percent permanent and total disability rating from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs as a result of a service-connected disability and who have owned and occupied the property as their primary residence since January 1 are also eligible for the Exemption Program. The form is available through the Colorado Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, Division of Veterans Affairs, 7465 E. 1st Avenue, Suite C, Denver, CO 80230. Their telephone number is (303) 343-1268 or you can obtain the form online from the web site of the Colorado Division of Property Taxation at www.dola.colorado.gov/dpt/forms/index.htm. The filing deadline is July 1 for disabled veterans.

The Short or Long form must only be completed and filed one time with the County Assessor (or the Division of Veterans Affairs for disabled veterans).

For more information, to get the forms, or a list of the county assessors’ offices, call 303-333-3482 or 1-855-880-4777.

About the Author

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS has been the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society since 1982. She has more than 40 years of experience in education and training, advocacy, clinical practice, and research in the field of gerontology. She is an adjunct instructor at Fort Hays State University teaching non-profit management. She can be reached at 303-333-3482 or at doherty001@att.net.

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