Letter to the Editor: Senior exemption

Dear Editor:
The Colorado Constitution establishes a property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans. For those who qualify, 50 percent of the first $200,000 in actual value of the primary residence is exempted from property tax. The State of Colorado pays the property taxes on the exempted value. For tax years 2009-2011, the General Assembly eliminated funding for the senior exemption (but not the disabled veteran exemption). At this time, the exemption is scheduled to return in 2012, payable in 2013. Qualifying seniors are urged to submit applications if they have not yet done so.

Senior Homestead Exemption Program
Basic qualifications—Generally, each of the following statements must be true to qualify. The qualifying senior:
n Must be at least 65 years old on Jan. 1 of this year; and
n Must be the current owner of record and listed as the owner of record for at least 10 consecutive years prior to Jan. 1; and
n Must occupy the property as her/his primary residence and must have done so for at least 10 consecutive years prior to Jan. 1.
Exceptions to basic qualifications—The applicant may still qualify if one or more of the following statements are true:
n Ownership is in the spouse’s name, and the spouse also occupies the property.
n Ownership has been transferred to or purchased by a trust, corporate partnership or other legal entity solely for estate planning purposes.
n The qualifying senior or his/her spouse was or is confined to a health care facility.
n The applicant was forced to move when the prior residence was condemned in an eminent domain proceeding.
n The applicant is the surviving spouse of a senior who previously qualified. The surviving spouse must be an applicant whose husband or wife met the qualifications on Jan. 1 of this year and who passed away on or after that date. The applicant must occupy the property as his or her primary residence and must have done so with his or her spouse.
n If you have filed for the Senior Homestead Exemption in a previous year and your application was approved for the exemption, you do not need to reapply.
To apply, you must complete the appropriate application form and return it to the Rio Blanco County Assessor no later than July 16. Two application forms are used for the exemption: The “short form” is for a qualifying senior citizen who meets each of the basic requirements. The “long form” is used when the applicant falls within one or more of the exceptions to the basic qualifications.

Disabled Veteran Exemption
Basic qualifications—Generally, each of the following statements must be true to qualify:
n The applicant must be a veteran who sustained a service-connected disability while serving on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States. This includes members of the National Guard and Reserves who sustained their injuries while serving on active duty;
n The applicant must have been honorably discharged;
n The United States Department of Veterans Affairs has rated the applicant’s service-connected disability as 100 percent permanent and total. VA unemployability awards do not meet the requirement for determining an applicant’s eligibility;
n The applicant must be the owner of record and must have been the owner of record since Jan. 1 of the current year; and
n The applicant must have occupied the property as his/her primary residence since Jan. 1 of the current year.
Exceptions to basic qualifications—The applicant may still qualify if one or more of the following statements are true:
n Ownership is in the spouse’s name, and the spouse also occupies the property;
n Ownership has been transferred to or purchased by a trust, corporate partnership or other legal entity solely for estate planning purposes;
n The qualifying disabled veteran or his/her spouse was or is confined to a health care facility.
n The applicant was forced to move when the prior residence was condemned in an eminent domain proceeding.
To apply, you must file a completed application with the Colorado Division of Veterans Affairs, postmarked no later than July 2. Late applications may be accepted until Sept. 3 if the applicant can show good cause for missing the July 2 deadline.
To print “Senior Homestead Exemption” or “Disabled Veteran Exemption” forms, please go to the Colorado Division of Property Taxation website at www.dola.colorado.gov/dpt, click “Forms,” then click on either “Disabled Veterans Exemption Application” or “Senior Exemption Forms” and follow the instructions. If you do not have access to a computer and/or the internet, or if you have further questions, please call the Rio Blanco County Assessor’s office at 970-878-9410.
Renae T. Neilson
Rio Blanco County Assessor