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Thursday, June 26, 2014

This Year's Surge in Home Prices Will Impact Next 2 Years' Property Taxes

[Published June 26, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers]

June 30th of every even numbered year is a key date for county assessors, because the value of homes on that date determines the taxable valuation of all homes for the following two tax years.

The taxes for this year are actually based on what your home would have sold for on June 30, 2012, determined from sales during the 24 months prior to that date.  Our taxes didn’t increase much or at all for the past two years because homes had mostly lost value during the 24 months leading up to that date.

This year, however, is a different matter.  The increase in home prices has been dramatic this year throughout Jefferson County, and the result will inevitably be much higher taxes on your home for the next two years — a real windfall for taxing jurisdictions without any increase in their mill levies.

That’s because no restriction is placed on how much your taxes can increase based on the value of your home. The mill levy — which is subject to voter approval — can stay exactly the same and your taxes can rise dramatically.

The valuation software employed by the county assessors looks at sales over the prior 24 months and “ages” those sales to come up with a valuation as of June 30th of this year. 

For example, let’s say that a comparable home to yours sold a year ago for $200,000.  The computer would calculate the increase in valuation for all homes during the last 12 months and change that comparable valuation, say, to $210,000 or even more when calculating what your home might have sold for on June 30, 2014.

We are blessed that our property taxes for residential properties are so low in Colorado.  People who relocate to our state from, say, Texas, are surprised and delighted at how low our property taxes are here.  In Texas, there is no income tax and people think that’s terrific, but governments cost money, and what Texans save on income tax has to be made up for in other ways.

A common misperception about property taxes is that incorporated cities have higher property taxes than unincorporated areas, but the opposite is the case.  The City of Golden, for example, has a mill levy of only 12.34 mills. That covers police, fire, parks & recreation, and more.  Just east of the city limits, homes in unincorporated Jeffco pay 13.63 mills for the West Metro Fire Protection District alone, another 3.2 mills for police protection, and another 10.9 mills for parks, water and sanitation.  That’s a huge difference.

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