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Buyers Guide > Property Taxes

Low Property Taxes on Colorado Residential Property

The Capitol of Colorado - Denver

Colorado's property taxes are some of the lowest in the country. One reason is vacation home owners who chip in and don't have full-time needs like schooling. Another is a currently vibrant state economy, and a third is the tax law.

On average, Colorado residential property tax is about 0.6 percent, and Colorado property owners usually pay one of the lowest rates of all 50 states.

Property taxes are based on what the county assessor calls the Actual Value (Combined Market Value : land and improvements). These values are based on sales from the previous 24-month period that ends on June 30. So, in 2018, for example, values will be based on properties sold between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2016. For 2019, they will be reassessed based on sales recorded between 2016 and 2018, and so on.

Any of the realtors at Breckenridge Associates will be happy to help you estimate what your property tax obligation might be on any given property, but in general it is figured by an annually fixed rate that gets reduced by the assessment ratio (the percentage of the value of the property that is taxed) and that is then multiplied by the value of the property. A $400,000 property might have about $2,000 in tax per year.

Colorado Property Tax Use and History

In Colorado, property taxes pay primarily for schools and local public services like fire department - or what are called special districts. The biggest portion is school funding and Colorado has a unique way to fund schools so that every student across the state gets about the same relative dollars of funding per year. School finance equalization was championed in the legislature by Summit County's own lawmaker Sam Williams and has been a model for other states.

Colorado tax laws that effect property taxes are the Gallagher and TaBOR amendments. Gallagher was passed in 1982 and sets the ratio between resident and commercial property taxation. Generally it limits residential's share to 45 percent of the total. The number of residential properties has risen rapidly since 1982, and proportional Gallagher and numbers have kept residential property tax rates low, but hasn't been great for commercial property. Worst of all, funding is limited for education in the state, overall, and when added to the equalization, means all school are strapped, even those like Summit who have a very high property tax basis.  TaBOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) limits new taxes and tax rate rise, by requiring voters to approve these.  This doesn't apply to fees that have gone up. And because sales tax seem to be more popular, Colorado towns have a very high sales tax level. Each jurisdiction: county, town, state as collect their own percentage.  TaBOR is unique to Colorado and new effects come out during different economic times, but one of it's more restrictives rules to to keep all state spending to a per capita plus annual cost of living increase.  In some years, the state has been required to send checks in amounts under $15 to each taxpayer spending nearly as much to send the checks as they were worth. 

Colorado Senior Property Tax Exemption

Application Deadline: July 15 in the tax year of application

Requirements: To qualify a senior must be at least 65 years old on January 1 of the year the application is filed and must have owned and lived in their home for at least 10 consecutive years. A surviving spouse of a senior who qualified for the exemption may also apply.

For those who qualify, 50% of the first $200,000 in actual value of their primary residence is exempted. Seniors who have previously applied and been granted the exemption do not need to apply again. Funding for this exemption was approved for tax year 2015 (taxes payable in 2016). This is re-evaluated by the Colorado legislature each year. Senior Exemption Resources Senior Exemption blank long form (pdf) Senior Exemption blank short form (pdf) Senior Exemption brochure (pdf) Senior Exemption long form instructions (pdf)

Colorado Veteran Property Tax Exemption

Application Deadline: July 1 in the tax year of application

Requirements: Qualifying disabled veterans will receive an exemption on 50% of the first 200,000 of actual property value. Owners of multiple properties can designate only one of those properties for the exemption, and it should be their primary residence. A qualifying disabled veteran must meet the following requirements: the disability must have been service related, while serving on active duty in the Armed services; the veteran must have been honorably discharged; the Department of Veteran's Affairs will have issued a "permanent and total" disability rating to the veteran. The veteran must own the property and must have been an owner of record since January 1 of the application year. In some circumstances ownership by a spouse or by a trust or other legal entity may be considered acceptable.

Application Submittal & Qualification Veteran applications for this exemption are made through the Colorado Department of Military Affairs in Denver. The phone number is (303) 284-6077. The application is online at the Division of Veteran Affairs. The Department of Veteran Affairs will qualify the veteran as eligible, the county assessor's office will confirm that the ownership and residency requirements are met. In 2014, Colorado’s Legislature extended this exemption to the surviving spouse of a disabled veteran who previously received the exemption. Surviving spouse applications are submitted to the county assessor. Veteran Exemption Resources Veteran Exemption Brochure (pdf) Veteran Surviving Spouse Application (pdf) Other Colorado Exemptions Charitable, religious, and private school organizations may apply for exemption from property tax. Application must be made to the state Division of Property Taxation. The application form, along with the state's fee, is submitted through the Assessor's Office. This office verifies location and ownership information and forwards the application documents to the state. The state informs both owners and assessors of their determination.

Help with Summit County Taxes

Full payment of property taxes are due each year by April 30, or you may pay half by February 28, and the final half by June 15.  Taxes of less than $25 must be paid in full. The Summit County Treasurer is responsible for collection of property taxes and can be contacted on  or at the county courthouse at 208 E. Lincoln Ave. in Breckenridge.