house for sale

House prices have soared in recent years. This house in mid-Colorado Springs last sold in 2005 for $157,000 but now is listed for sale at $315,000.

Seniors and disabled military veterans will once again benefit from the voter-approved homestead exemption on their real estate taxes.

While the exemption has been funded many years, some years it has not been funded.

But El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker said on June 22 that the exemption will be funded next year, meaning those who qualify will see 50 percent of the first $200,000 in actual value exempted from taxation.

“This is great news," Schleiker said in a release. “Supporting our veterans, and our seniors to comfortably enjoy their golden years while maintaining their Homestead and Disabled Veteran Exemption Program is the right thing to do.”

While that is good news, those who rely on the exemption should be aware that with values skyrocketing, that means less of the home's value will be tax free.

For example, a house valued at $200,000 last year but next year will be valued at $250,000, due to the hot real estate market, will see $100,000 exempted, and the other $150,000 not exempted.

Thus, taxes very well may go up on that house, although exactly how much won't be known until all the taxing entities certify their mill levies to the county in December. When values rise, taxing entities must either lower their property tax levies to keep revenues below the cap imposed by the voter-approved Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, or ask voters' permission to keep the extra money.

Another factor that could mitigate rising taxes is Senate Bill 21-293, which was adopted by the legislature. It will reduce the assessment rate on residential property from 7.15 percent to 6.95 percent, and decrease rates on other types of property as well.

The bill would make those changes only in the 2022 and 2023 tax years. Also that change would reduce the tax bill by only a few dollars a month, while the value change caused by the reappraisal could increase the taxes on a $250,000 house (valued two years ago at $200,000) by roughly $65 a month, even after the homestead exemption is applied.

But again, the final impact of higher property values on tax bills can't be known until the mill levies are set by the agencies that impose property taxes.

Still the rising tax bill for seniors and veterans has Schleiker thinking of what could be done.

"I am going to reach out to our Democrat and Republican Representatives in the next month or so to see about a Bill to increase the exemption from 50 percent of the first $200,000, to 50 percent of the first $400,000," he tells the Indy via email. "The $200,000 value was the median value of a home in 2000. That definitely is not what it is today."

In fact, the median price of a home in Colorado springs tops $400,000.

The senior tax exemption is available to property owners who are at least 65 years old before January 1 of the year of application, owned their home for at least 10 consecutive years and occupied the home as their primary residence for at least 10 consecutive years prior to January 1.

Go here for more information. The application deadline is July 15.

The disabled vet tax exemption is available to property owners who sustained a service-connected disability while serving on active duty in the military, were honorably discharged, and were rated by the Department of Veteran Affairs as 100 percent "permanent and total" disabled, and have owned and occupied the property prior to January 1 of the current year.

For more on qualifying for this exemption, go here.

Senior Reporter

Pam Zubeck is a graduate from Emporia State University. She worked at the Tulsa Tribune before coming to Colorado Springs, where she spent 16 years at the Gazette and in 2009 joined Colorado Publishing House.