Colorado’S Citizen Legislature – May 2019
By Doris Beaver ~
Colorado’s General Assembly adjourns on May 3rd. The June column of Colorado’s Citizen Legislature will present readers with what happened to legislation written about this session.
House Bill 19-1317:
Titled “The Creation of a Refundable Income Tax Credit for Qualifying Seniors that Replaces the Senior Property Tax Exemption, and in Connection Therewith, Enacting the ‘Senior Housing Security Act of 2019,’” HB 1317 is a late-in-session introduced bill (April 8th), subtitled “changes to tax expenditures available to senior citizens,” and can only be described as a complicated piece of legislation.
The Senior Homestead Exemption was added to the Colorado Constitution after passage of Referendum A in 2000, effective 2002 – exemption is 50 percent of the first $200,000 of a home’s actual value. The General Assembly has the constitutional authority to set the exemption amount.
Beginning in 2020, HB 1317 would “reduce the value of the current law senior property tax exemption to zero and creates a refundable means-tested income tax credit available between 2020 and 2029. (Note: Means-tested income tax credit is defined as a “benefit” only certain people will be eligible for. The government agency that administers the benefit will have to determine the means cutoff and figure out a way to verify recipients’ means which often requires an applicant to provide tax returns.)
Also created is the Senior Coloradans Trust Fund and authorizes ten years of annual transfers to the fund. The related disabled veterans property tax exemption is not affected by HB 1317.
The critical points of HB 1317 are:
- Reduces the actual value of a senior’s home that qualifies for the 50 percent homestead exemption from $200,000 to zero;
- Repeals the requirement that county assessors notify taxpayers of their eligibility for the exemption;
- Relieves county assessors from any administrative responsibility associated with the exemption unless and until the General Assembly acts to increase the exemption amount from zero;
- For tax years 2020 through 2029 creates a refundable income tax credit available to full year Colorado residents who are at least 65 years old as of the end of the tax year and whose adjusted gross income falls below an inflation-adjusted cap;
- The income tax credit for taxpayers with adjusted gross income would be: a) up to $12,000, the credit is $700; 2) between $12,000 and $65,000, the credit depends on where their income falls within 13 income range groups (for example, a senior taxpayer with adjusted gross income of $35,000 the credit would be $400, and adjusted gross income of $50,000 the credit would be $200; and 3) over $65,000, the credit is not available;
- The amount by which the credit exceeds taxpayer’s income tax liability is refunded to the taxpayer;
- Excludes the refunded amount from determination of the taxpayer’s eligibility for public assistance benefit to the extent permitted by federal law; and
- The refunded amount is deducted from the federal taxable income for the purpose of determining the taxpayer’s Colorado taxable income in the following year.
During the years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2010 and 2011, the senior property tax exemptions were not available when the General Assembly exercised its constitutional authority to set the exemption amount at zero to address budget shortfalls.
Under current law for Fiscal Year 2017-18 and subsequent fiscal years, reimbursements to local governments for the senior homestead exemption and disabled veterans property tax exemption are the first mechanisms used to refund a state TABOR refund obligation.
LATE BREAKING NEWS: HB 1317 was postponed indefinitely on April 18th. Look for this bill to be introduced again next session.
Sponsors of House Bill 19-1317: Representatives Chris Kennedy (D-Jefferson) 866-2951 and Mike Weissman (D-Arapahoe) 866-2942; and Senator Lois Court (Arapahoe, Denver) 866-4861.
House Bill 19-1085:
HB 1085 expands the property tax and rent assistance grant program by repealing the requirement that rent must be paid to a landlord that pays property tax. (Current law provides that if rent is paid to a landlord exempt from paying property tax, an applicant does not qualify for PTC rebates – PTC rebates include the rent portion of the property tax and rent assistance rebate grant and a heat and fuel expenses rebate grant).
At this writing, HB 1085 had been amended during second reading in the House as to grant amounts, income eligibility and phase out amounts. Those final amounts will be included in the June column.
HB 1085 just passed its third reading in the House on April 19th.
Sponsors of House Bill 19-1085: Representatives Tony Exum (D-El Paso) 866-3069; and Senator Rachel Zenzinger (D-Jefferson) 866-4840.
Senate Bill 19-202:
SB 202 concerns ballot access for voters with disabilities. If passed and enacted as introduced, the Secretary of State will be required to “establish procedures to enable voters with disabilities to independently mark a paper ballot using non-visual access or low vision access to technology, whether the voter is voting in a mail ballot election or at a polling location.” SB 202 passed third reading on April 15th.
Sponsors of Senate Bill 19-202: Senators Jessie Danielson (D-Jefferson) 866-4856 and Rachel Zenzinger (D-Jefferson) 866-4840; and Representative Meg Froelich (D-Arapahoe) 866-2921.
House Bill 19-1307:
HB 1307 is a clarification of an earlier-passed piece of legislation (HB 19-1063). HB 1307 specifies that disclosure of a report of the mistreatment or self-neglect of an at-risk adult shall only be made to the at-risk adult who the subject of the report. (Note: HB 19-1063 was signed into effect on March 20, 2019, and becomes effective August 2, 2019 if the General Assembly adjourns on May 3, 2019, as scheduled, and no referendum petition is filed.)
HB 1307 passed third reading in the House on April 16th.
Sponsors of House Bill 19-1307: Representatives Tracy Kraft-Tharp (D-Jefferson) 866-2950, and Colin Larson (R-Jefferson) 866-2927; and Senator Peter Lee (D-El Paso) 866-6364 and Bob Gardner (R-El Paso) 866-4880.
Doris Beaver is a freelance journalist who writes from her home high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains on senior issues, politics, ethics and environmental issues. Visit her website www.dorisbeaver.com, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.