Colorado property owners hit with sticker shock over property valuations, you have until May to appeal
Did you get your envelope? Is the property tax assessor crazy? My assessed value went…
It has been quite the election cycle to say the least. One thing is for certain, Colorado property owners are going to be paying allot more in taxes on everything, especially in Denver county. Your taxes in Denver will increase by $2400/year minimum for the median home. The biggest change is the repeal of the Gallagher amendment along with numerous bond and sales tax initiatives. What does this mean for Colorado Real Estate?
Under Colorado law there are amendments that govern how taxes are calculated. One of the major drivers of taxes is the Gallagher amendment. The Gallagher Amendment is like a balancing scale with two arms. On one side are residential property values. On the other, non-residential values, such as commercial properties including minerals, like oil and gas. Residential property values can’t exceed roughly 45% of the statewide tax base whereas commercial properties account for the additional 55%. When home values rise, or non-residential values fall, it tips the scales out of balance, and residential taxes are cut. The inverse can also occur with commercial property values dropping causing the scale to once again tip out of balance.
I was very surprised this passed and that voters in our current economy voted for such a large property tax increase. The Gallagher amendment drastically slowed the growth of residential property taxes. According to Colorado Public Broadcasting, taxable property values in Denver have doubled in the last 20 years. Without Gallagher, that taxable base might have risen by a factor of five. Without Gallagher now and the passage of amendment B, your taxes will go up, up, and away! With the passage of amendment B, in 2021 ( a revaluation year as Colorado values properties every odd year) there is going to be quite the sticker shock on tax bills as residential values have gone up close to 40% in the last two years in Denver and throughout most of the mountain communities. Without Gallagher tax bills will rise in lockstep with property appreciation from now to eternity. The higher property tax rates will continue to contribute to the unaffordability of Denver and many cities throughout the front range and the resort communities.
TABOR stands for the Taxpayer bill of rights and it seeks to limit the growth of Government based on population increases and inflation. Theoretically this would keep property taxes in check, but All but four of Colorado’s 178 school districts have already “de-Bruced.” (meaning they are not bound by TABOR and can continue to collect unlimited property taxes). Eighty-five percent of Colorado’s municipalities and 51 of 64 counties have also convinced their voters to let them opt out.
Denver County had a slew of taxes on the ballot. From mill levy increases, bond initiatives, and sales taxes. Here are some of the new initiatives that Denver County residents will now be paying.
In a nutshell in Denver, sales tax rates increased by .5% and the mill levy increase by 4 mills, so assuming the median home price of 606,000, the tax bill would increase by about 2400/year minimum, if Denver continues to appreciate, which it likely will that number will be closer to 3000/year into perpetuity!
I’m amazed at the appetite for large tax increases in the economic cycle we are in. It is a bit ironic, that Denver passed massive tax hikes including one to fund housing. The higher tax rates are pushing out many of the constituents that they are trying to assist with housing! Let’s do a quick calculation of what 2021 will bring to everyone’s tax bill.
Recall properties are reassessed every odd year so 2021 and 2023 are reassessment years, there has been huge appreciation the last several years in most areas of the state and this appreciation looks to continue in Denver and the mountain resort communities. I did two scenarios, one for a median home in the front range (not Denver county) and then one for Denver county factoring in the new property tax initiatives:
|Ghallagher is repealed; Non Denver County|
|Property value||assement rate||assessed valuation||Mill Levy||taxes||% change from 2019|
|2021 (15%/year||650000||7.15%||$ 46,475||0.0812||$ 3,772||30%|
|2023 assume (10%/year)||780000||7.15%||$ 55,770||0.0812||$ 4,526||56%|
|2023 assume (15%/year)||845000||7.15%||$ 60,418||0.0812||$ 4,903||69%|
|In Denver county|
|Ghallagher is repealed||% change from 2019|
|2021 (15%/year||650000||7.15%||$ 46,475||0.0812||$ 4,422||52%|
|2023 assume (10%/year)||780000||7.15%||$ 55,770||0.0812||$ 7,646||164%||**.004 mill levy increase|
|2023 assume (15%/year)||845000||7.15%||$ 60,418||0.0812||$ 8,283||185%||**.004 mill levy increase|
At some point, the large property taxes will begin to impact property values as borrowers will need even more income to qualify for a loan (taxes and insurance are included in the mortgage payment calculation). Income is not rising nearly as fast as real estate appreciation and taxes so less will be able to afford the house. Furthermore, many commercial properties will also see a rise in taxes and these tax increases will have to be passed on to the tenants. Note, the tax increases will not only impact property owners, anyone who pays rent will also see higher rents as the tax increases flow through to residential and commercial tenants
One of the largest drivers of appreciation in Colorado is the number of relocators from higher cost coastal areas like California or New York. Many times they are leaving these areas due to large property and income tax bills. As Colorado continues its upward trajectory of taxation, it will soon join the coastal club of expensive cities and at some point see more migration out than in as people move to the next up and coming city with lower taxes. When this will happen is anybody’s guess, but with the repeal of the Gallagher amendment and rapid increase in taxes it will happen sooner rather than later.
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to wire money to your long-lost cousin that is going to give you a million dollars if you just send them your bank account! I do need your help though, please like and share our articles on linked in, twitter, facebook, and other social media. I would greatly appreciate it.
Written by Glen Weinberg, COO/ VP Fairview Commercial Lending. Glen has been published as an expert in hard money lending, real estate valuation, financing, and various other real estate topics in Bloomberg, Businessweek ,the Colorado Real Estate Journal, National Association of Realtors Magazine, The Real Deal real estate news, the CO Biz Magazine, The Denver Post, The Scotsman mortgage broker guide, Mortgage Professional America and various other national publications.
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