Homestead Exemption Which Reduces Seniors’ Property Taxes Under Attack

By Eileen Doherty, MS ~

DENVER, CO – In 1935, Colorado voters approved the Old Age Pension with excise taxes making a minimum monthly income available to all Coloradoans age 60 and over to ensure they would have a home.

Given Colorado’s long history of taking care of older persons, in 2000 Colorado voters passed the Senior Property Tax Homestead Exemption to help all homeowners age 65 and over who lived in their home for ten years or more by paying a percentage of the property taxes. The intent was to ensure that older adults do not become homeless because they are unable to pay the property taxes.

Legislators are required to approve funding every year. In the past when the state budget was tight, homeowners did not get the tax credit. The legislature has funded the program 12 out of the past 18 years. Legislators also have the authority to not fund the program for reasons other than lack of funding, such as using the money to pay other state obligations. Governor John Hickenlooper’s 2018-19 budget called for eliminating the benefit.

Despite the Governor’s request, the legislature budgeted $150 million, costing the state about one-half of one percent of the total state budget for 2018-19. The program has grown from $60 million in 2006.

Some policy makers would like to use the money for other purposes such as education, Medicaid and transportation. Some policy makers suggest this growth is unsustainable and want to limit the benefit. Others want to eliminate it, while others are suggesting alternative ways to provide some help for older homeowners to pay their taxes.

The question for you as a home owner is do you want the benefit to continue, to be eliminated and the money used for other purposes, or for the benefit to continue, but with major changes.

Senior advocates and policy makers need to hear the voices of homeowners who are taxpayers. Join the Colorado Gerontological Society which is teaming with the Colorado Senior Lobby and the Strategic Action Planning Group on Aging to sponsor a forum on August 14, 2018 from 8:45 am to 1 pm at the Police Protective Association, 2105 Decatur Street, Denver. Registration opens at 8 am. There is no charge to attend. You can register at www.senioranswers.org or by calling 1-866-294-3971. Reservations are suggested. For more information, call 303-333-3482.

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty

Eileen Doherty, MS is the Executive Director of the Colorado Gerontological Society. Her areas of expertise include management and administration of nonprofit organizations, education and training on issues related to older adults, advocacy and policy development on senior issues, and clinical practice in working with seniors and families to manage their lives in the later years. She has been the Director of the Society since 1982. She teaches Nonprofit Management for Fort Hays State University.