America's Property Tax Advisor

Colorado Lawmakers Challenge Tax Cap Initiative


Colorado Legislators are considering ways to slow down rising property tax bills with reduced assessment rates.


It’s an effort to head off a property tax proposal that, if approved, would cap the growth of property taxes for at least ten years. Initiative 74, sponsored by the group Colorado Concern would limit property tax increases to 3% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.


Lowering Assessment Rates


While legislation has not yet been introduced, the bipartisan group is working on a bill to temporarily lower assessment rates. Doing so would result in lower tax bills for both commercial and residential properties. Assessment rates are just one part of the property tax formula. They are set at a statewide level, and they combine with tax values and the local tax rate to determine the yearly tax bill for each property.


“This is quite arguably the biggest tax policy move that we have in this session,” Senator Chris Hansen told Colorado Public Radio. “We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, which will have a huge long-term impact.”


Hansen says he doesn’t want to see tax limits written into the state constitution, since those dollars support schools, emergency services, and more. He is negotiating with Colorado Concern in an effect to keep their proposal off the ballot.


“My hope is to avoid a ballot initiative in this case, because I think we can do a better job if we respond to economic data as a legislature, rather than doing a formula in the constitution,” Hansen said.


Is it Enough?


State Representative Colin Larson, who is involved in the Colorado Concern ballot initiative said he’s skeptical that Hansen’s ideas will go far enough. He believes the state needs permanent, structural fixes for property taxes, which he argues force people to pay for unrealized gains in the property market.


“If it’s something that’s temporary in nature, like a two-to-four-year fix, it’s a non-starter” Larson said. “If it’s a permanent fix, we’re open to it.”