Letter: Eagle County taxpayers need a break
Vail CO, Colorado
I am a retired CPA and we purchased our home in Wildridge in 1991. The duplex was built in 1985. When we received our 2007 assessed valuation it was 53 percent higher than the 2006 valuation. I made the assumption that our property tax bill for 2008 could be about 20 percent higher than the 2007 property tax. I was absolutely shocked when I received the 2008 county tax bill and it was 49 percent higher.
In my 41 years of practicing I had many times explained to clients that their county property taxes were a double-edged sword. One blade was the mill levy of the various county tax authorities added together for your total mill levy. The other blade was the assessed valuation of their property. So one had to multiple the total mill levy by the assessed value to arrive at their total tax bill. You had to have both factors to determine how much you owed.
I checked around and found some taxing authorities had lowered their mill levy and others had stayed the same as in 2006. So the big increase in the overall county real estate property taxes was the assessed value of the property.
Every county taxing authority will receive more income than they had in 2007. This is a perfect example of the double-edge sword striking your income.
The next question was why the big difference in the assessment of individual homes?
I found that homes built prior to 1990 and sold in the 1990s or that had continued to be lived in had an increase in assessed valuation and property taxes from 45 percent to 100 percent. Other homes had increases of 20 percent to 35 percent. The reason for this had to be the increase in the price of new homes from 2002 to 2007.
Square-foot selling prices were anywhere from $250 to $1,000 as a result of our housing boom or speculation, take your pick.
Having audited and helped prepare budgets for various types of county taxing authorities, I came to agree that the TABOR Amendment, which limited the amount of property tax collections, did cause taxing authorities problems for many years. I will also say that the TABOR Amendment did stop many pet projects and helped keep property taxes somewhat in reason.
But having county property taxes for 2008 increase anywhere from 35 percent to 100 percent is completely out of line, ridiculous and inflationary. Every home owner is affected. The ones who will feel the bite the most will be the hourly wages earners, both renters and home owners, in addition to those who are on fixed or retirement income.
We have no idea how many foreclosures there will be because of home owners not being able to meet increased monthly payments and the increase in property taxes.
The answer to the problem is not one of the tax authorities blaming the other but rather one of working together to come up with a reasonable tax increase to cover their needs. There is time enough to make adjustments before property tax payments are due and if not, a 30-day extension would not be out-of-line.
Just because state regulations have given the tax authorities the right to do what they have done does not take away their common sense to do what is reasonable.
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