AARP pushes seniors not to claim homestead break

The deadline to file the necessary paperwork to claim the state’s homestead exemption is fast approaching.

But at least one group in the state is hoping seniors who do qualify for the property tax break will miss that deadline, and do so intentionally.

AARP, a national group that advocates for seniors, is asking Coloradans 65 and older who have been in their homes for 10 years or longer not to claim the credit.

That’s because those who don’t will see that money go to fund programs for older Coloradan such as meals on wheels and ombudsman services at long-term care facilities.

Kelli Fritts, lobbyist and spokeswoman for AARP’s Colorado office, said even though Sunday is the deadline to apply for the credit, Sept. 15 is the deadline for people to notify county assessors that they don’t want to receive it.

As a result, the group is planning a series of newspaper and television ads over the summer asking homeowners not to take the credit, she said.

In past years, the most property tax exemption money that went unclaimed was about $770,000.

Since 2000, when voters approved the homestead exemption for older homeowners, the Legislature has funded it only four other times because of the two recessions that have hit the state in that time.

Because of improving economy in the state, and increased state revenue as a result, lawmakers fully funded the $100 million program for the next time property tax bills are sent out in February.

In order to get that credit, though, qualified homeowners must file a property tax exemption form with their county assessors. Senior homeowners who have applied for the credit in years past don’t have to do so again.

The tax break reduces the actual value of a qualifying home by 50 percent, but no more than $100,000.

To qualify for this year’s tax break, a homeowner must have turned 65 by Jan. 1 and used the home as a primary residence for 10 consecutive years. The person seeking the exemption must be the owner of record.

The exemption is good for only one property. Seniors who own more than one home and attempt to apply for the credit for all of them will be denied the exemption entirely.

For information about the credit, or to apply, contact the Mesa County Assessor’s Office. Its website is assessor.mesacounty.us.


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