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The property assessment process is the basis for generating property tax revenues to pay for roads, schools, parks, libraries, fire protection, police protection, water, sewer, health, and other services.
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Tax rates (mill levies) are determined by each taxing authority (County, Cities and Towns, School Districts, Fire Departments, Water and Sanitation Districts, and others) in the fall of each year. These authorities provide services to you and are listed on your annual tax notice.
Amendment I, the Tabor Amendment, was approved by the voters in 1992 and restricts the ability of taxing authorities to raise tax rates or revenue without voter approval. Some tax authorities have chosen to provide temporary tax credits, which allow the tax districts to maintain its official mill levy and not exceed revenue limits.
The TABOR Amendment restricts the total amount of revenue growth and individual taxing entity (a cemetery district, for example) is allowed each year. This is computed by each entity utilizing a formula that takes into account inflation, new construction in the taxing entity’s boundaries, and other factors. The Amendment does not restrict the amount that an individual’s taxes may change, nor does it place a specific percentage limitation on any individual’s tax change. The Amendment does state that mill levies cannot be raised by a taxing entity without an election, except for very special circumstances. It also specifies that improved residential property must be valued using the market approach to value only.
The differences in assessment rates between residential homes and other types of property is the result of an amendment to the Colorado Constitution (known as the Gallagher Amendment) approved by the voters in 1982, which limited the residential share of the property taxes. Historically, the State Legislature adjusted the residential assessment rate each year to meet Gallagher statutory requirements. However, In 2020, Amendment B to the Colorado Constitution repealed the part of Gallagher that dictated how assessment rates were set. Now rates are set by state legislature annually. Rates cannot be increased without a vote of the people, but they can be decreased.
Actual Value x Assessment Rate = Assessed Value
Assessed Value x Mill Levy = Property Tax
For example, take a residential property with an actual value of $300,000. To derive the assessed value, multiply the actual value by the assessment rate: $300,000 x 6.765% = $20,295.
Then, multiply the assessed value by the mill levy (for this example, we’ll use 50 mills or .050 in decimal form) to determine the property tax: $20,295 x .050 = $1,014.75.
The word "improvement" is an appraisal term that refers to the structure that is on a property, and does not imply that the structure has been improved since the previous reappraisal. While a property may not have been updated and characteristics remain the same, the property value is based on what it would sell for as of the prescribed appraisal date. Real estate values are influenced by numerous economic, governmental and social factors. As property values change in the marketplace, those changes must be reflected on the assessment roll.
You can visit the county Assessor’s Office or go to their website to review information on similar properties and verify that the information the assessor has on your home is correct. If a neighbor has a similar house which recently sold, the sale price may also give you an indication of the value of your house.
Property owners can appeal the assessor's valuation of their property between May 1 and June 8 of each year. You may appeal your assessment by mail, in person, or by phone.
The Delta County Assessor's Office will contact you to schedule an onsite appointment to review your appeal and respond to you in writing by the end of June with a Notice of Determination (NOD). If you are not satisfied with the assessor's determination, you may make a written appeal on or before July 15 to the Delta County Board of Equalization (CBOE). You will then attend a hearing where you and the Assessor meet with a hearing officer to state what your opinion of value is.
If you are dissatisfied with the County Board of Equalization’s Decision:
You may appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA), to the County Commissioners for binding arbitration, or the District Court of the county in which the property is located. You must appeal within 30 days of the County Board of Equalization's decision. Your determination for the County Board of Equalization will include procedures to file for arbitration, a BAA hearing, or District Court. Decisions reached through the arbitration procedure are final and not subject to review.
One sale by itself does not determine market value. All comparable sales must be considered when establishing a level of value for consistency and equalization purposes. Your sales transaction is verified and then will be considered along with sales of similar properties, so long as it is an arm's length, open market transaction.
Although location is very important in the valuation of real estate, it is not the only factor. Other factors to be considered in choosing good comparable sales are similarity in size, quality, style, and condition of the residential improvements. Therefore, other sales are also being considered in the valuation of your property.
If your property value has increased, that does not automatically mean that your property tax will go up by the same percentage. THE ASSESSOR DOES NOT SET PROPERTY TAXES OR MILL LEVIES. Property taxes are a result of assessed value running against the mill levies. The mill levies are established by the taxing districts at the end of each calendar year, based on the revenue needed to fund their annual budget. While there are constraints within the Colorado Constitution and Statutes to prohibit excess taxation, the responsibility lies with the taxpayer to attend the annual meetings of these taxing districts and ensure the expenses within the budgets are reasonable and necessary. Tax districts are political subdivisions of the state, subject to all of Colorado's open government laws, and are required to publish the dates of their meetings and provide financial statements at the public's request.
The Assessor identifies and values all property within the County in accordance with state law. The goal is to equalize property values so that taxes are distributed fairly and equitably between property owners.
Over the course of two years, values in different neighborhoods may change by significantly different amounts.
By law, the Assessor must consider a variety of market based information in appraising different kinds of property:
Vacant Land: Sales of similar land taking place during the study period adjusted for time and physical differences such as size, topography and access to amenities.
Residential Homes: Market sales of similar homes, taken from the current study period adjusted for time and property differences such as size, location, or age.
Commercial Property: Market sales of similar commercial property; income and cost. The Assessor's job is to analyze all pertinent information and reconcile it into an accurate, fair estimate of value.
According to State statute, the assessor is required to gather and confirm sales within an 18-month period ending on the June 30 of the year prior to a reappraisal year. This data-gathering period is referred to as the sales study period. While statute prescribes an 18-month study period, assessors are allowed to extend the study period back in time in six-month increments up to 60 months to ensure enough qualified sales within each economic area. When sales volume is high, fewer years can be used. When sales volume is low, more years may be necessary to obtain adequate comparable valuation data.
Residential properties, by law, must be valued solely by the market approach, using comparable verified sales from the study period ending June 30 prior to January of the reappraisal year. These statutes require the adjustment of sale prices to reflect changing market conditions. This is known as time trending. Sales of residential property that took place during the study period are analyzed to establish necessary time adjustments. Since the law requires that sale prices be adjusted to account for appreciation or decline in the market up to the June 30 appraisal date, it’s as if all homes that sold during the study period were sold on the June 30 appraisal date.
Property tax law is formulated like any other state law. Some provisions are enacted by Constitutional Amendment, some by legislation. The Colorado Division of Property Taxation, under the direction of the Property Tax Administrator hired by the Colorado State Board of Equalization (SBOE) formulates policies to administer the property tax laws. The SBOE also has oversight of County Assessors to assure compliance with assessment guidelines. Colorado is one the few states that also utilizes an independently conducted statistical and procedural audit of the assessor’s office to assure compliance with assessment guidelines, state regulations, and state laws. The auditor’s final annual audit report for the Delta County Assessor’s office for each year since 2003 may be accessed at the Delta County website.
Not usually. In many cases, there is no basis for a value adjustment. Many of the value changes which are made during the appeal period reflect minor corrections in property inventories, which generally do not cause major value changes. As for taxes, an example of a $1,000 reduction in actual value of an improved residential property would reduce a tax bill by around $4.00 to $6.00 depending on the mill levy.
The Assessor does not control the setting of mill levies. Taxpayers should consider attending budget hearings of taxing entities prior to the setting of mill levies. Furthermore, nearly all of the regulations and procedures the Assessor must follow are mandated by Constitutional Amendment, Statute, or State Regulation. Taxpayers should contact their Legislators in regard to matters of property taxation policy. The Assessor does not formulate tax policy.
By Colorado Constitutional provision, agricultural land is valued upon its ability to produce income, using a formula specified by the state, not upon its market value. There are specific requirements that must be met for property to qualify for agricultural designation. Agricultural residences are valued at their market value, just as regular residences are.
Generally speaking, assessment records of all types held by the Assessor’s office are deemed public, unless Colorado Statute specifically requires them to be private. Some examples of records for which there is not public access permitted are personal property account records, Real Property and Manufactured Home Transfer Declarations, and individual Senior and Veterans Property Tax Exemption data. Also, names of certain judicial and law enforcement personnel contained within the assessment records can not be displayed on assessment records available on the county website. Some proprietary income and other information supplied to the Assessor pertinent to the owner’s property may be considered confidential; however, generally speaking, information supplied to the Assessor in conjunction with an appeal of valuation becomes public record. To the extent that it is financially feasible, the Delta County Assessor, in compliance with § 24-72-203(II), C.R.S., has a policy of making as much public information as possible available on the Delta County website on a no-charge basis to the public.