Bill passed by House closes loophole giving tax break on disputed ag land
DENVER — Homeowners who are paying a lower tax rate reserved for farm and ranch land would no longer be able to use that agricultural assessment under a bill that won approval Tuesday in the Colorado House.
The measure is designed to close a loophole that allows landowners whose homes are not integral to an actual agricultural operation to get a break on their property taxes.
Under current law, land beneath those homes is assessed at the cheaper agricultural property tax rate, instead of a higher residential one. Assessments on the actual homes would continue to be at the residential rate.
The bill that would change that passed the House on a bipartisan 41–24 vote. Local Republican Reps. Ray Scott of Grand Junction and Don Coram of Montrose said they voted against it because they believe it gives county assessors too much discretion in determining what is and is not agricultural land.
“The unintended consequences bothered me,” Scott said. “What’s this going to lead to? Right now, everybody’s in a grab for things. Will they overreach to try to solve a problem that’s not there?”
Coram said he understands there are people who have multimillion-dollar homes on large tracts but get the agricultural designation because they allow a small amount of grazing or farming elsewhere on the land.
But he said HB1146 isn’t specific enough to make it clear what is considered “integral” to agricultural operations. “I’m just not sure we’ve got everything worked out on it yet,” Coram said.
Western Slope Rep. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, also voted against the bill, while Reps. Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, and Roger Wilson, D-Glenwood Springs, voted for it.
The measure heads to the Senate for more debate.