Seniors may get a break on taxes |

Seniors may get a break on taxes

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Senior citizens should pay special attention to the new form enclosed with their property-tax bill this year.

All property owners who received a bill from the Pitkin County Assessor’s Office received the short form for Colorado’s new senior property-tax exemption.

For those who qualify, it means a break on the property taxes they will pay next year, said Assessor Tom Isaac, who will be on hand at the Pitkin County Senior Center on Wednesday, March 6, to explain the exemption. Isaac will join seniors for lunch at the center, starting at 12:30 p.m.

A couple of hundred taxpayers have already filled out the form and returned it to Isaac’s office, he said, though it’s not due until July 15.

State voters approved the exemption in 2000, effective this year. It will be applied to property values this year and be reflected on the tax bills that go out next January for year 2002 taxes.

To qualify, a taxpayer must be at least 65 years of age by Jan. 1, 2002. The property in question must be their primary residence and they must have lived at that property for at least 10 years.

“If you apply, you get up to 50 percent off the first $200,000 of the value of your property,” Isaac said.

In other words, if a qualifying senior citizen’s home is valued at $150,000, the exemption will take $75,000 off that value. The property-tax bill will be calculated as if the home had been assessed at $75,000.

For a $2 million home, the exemption will take $100,000 off the value. The reduction would translate to roughly $200 to $300 off next year’s property-tax bill for that $2 million home, Isaac estimated.

“Not a helluva lot, but it’s better than a kick in the teeth,” he said with a grin.

The state will make up the lost revenues to the local taxing districts, Isaac said.

The assessor is advising seniors to read the fine print on the short form. Some property owners will qualify for the exemption though they may not meet the basic criteria.

For example, a surviving spouse who isn’t 65 or who hasn’t lived in the house for 10 years may qualify if the deceased spouse would have qualified. Other provisions allow the exemption for property that has been placed in a trust and for property owned by an individual who had lived in the home for at least 10 years but is now in a nursing home.

In those cases, applicants will have to fill out the long form, which is actually about the same length as the short form, and is available from the assessor’s office in the Pitkin County Courthouse. For more information, call the office at 920-5160.

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