State tax official who is required to be neutral advised luxury resort owners on how to minimize property taxes
A top official at the Division of Property Taxation met regularly with a tax agent involved in litigation with Eagle, San Miguel and La Plata counties. The state’s property tax boss says it’s “a strong working relationship with all constituents.”
Astate tax official required to be a neutral arbiter is instead advising Colorado luxury resort hotel owners on how to minimize their property taxes, according to leaders in the counties who have lost millions of dollars in revenue.
A batch of personal emails uncovered by Eagle, San Miguel and La Plata counties detail a cozy relationship between the state tax official and the hotels’ fee-based property tax attorney. The three Colorado counties are asking for an audit of the state Division of Property Taxation, claiming the deputy director coached the property tax agent involved in legal fights over the valuation of commercial properties.
JoAnn Groff, the longtime head of the Division of Property Taxation, dismissed their detailed complaints. The Colorado Independent Ethics Commission rejected their plea for an investigation. The State Board of Equalization refused to take action.
A last-ditch campaign to sway lawmakers to request a performance audit of the division may work. And the counties are digging into their fight, filing dozens of open records requests and lobbying lawmakers for support over what they call a “gross violation of the public trust.” Meanwhile, Groff, the Division of Property Taxation boss, told the State Board of Equalization in March that she sees “absolutely nothing inappropriate” in the relationship between her deputy and Bruce Cartwright, the managing director of tax services for consulting firm Duff & Phelps.