Bill extends filing deadline for property tax exemption

DENVER — Seniors and veterans who have lived in their homes for 10 years or more would have a little more time to apply for the state’s homestead exemption under a bill approved in a House committee Wednesday.

The measure, HB1145, would delay from July 15 to Sept. 15, the deadline when applications are due to claim the exemption on property taxes, which is applied to 50 percent of the first $200,000 of a home’s assessed value.

Its sponsor, Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, said it isn’t often when the state can afford to fund the homestead exemption, which now costs the state about $100 million a year.

When it does, the Legislature usually isn’t sure it can afford the additional expense until the end of each legislative session, which comes in early May.

As a result, current law only leaves those who qualify two months to apply.

“We need to help our seniors know when this benefit is available,” Court said.

The bill, which passed the House Finance Committee on a bipartisan 12-0 vote, requires all county treasurers to notify homeowners if the exemption is available when they mail their annual tax assessment statements.

Court said eventually she would like to see a change in the homestead exemption law, one that only extends the benefit to financially troubled seniors who need it most. Under current law, anyone 65 years or older who has lived in his or her home 10 years or longer, regardless of income, qualifies for it.

Court said the state needs to means-test the exemption, in part because its cost is only going to rise in the years to come as more people qualify for it. Some lawmakers, including Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, have said they want to allow seniors to take the exemption with them if they are forced to move into new homes for health reasons, which will add to the number of seniors who can qualify for the exemption.

Court said means-testing the benefit isn’t an easy task because the homestead exemption is in the Colorado Constitution, and only voters can change it. She said there’s little political will in the Legislature to place such a measure on the ballot at this time.



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