Aerial view, taken Jan. 17, of the aftermath from Marshall fire. (Photo: Gabe Shakour / Shutterstock.com).

Duane Duggan, Realtor and Author RE/MAX of Boulder

When your home burns to the ground and everything has been taken from your normal life, a torrent of questions on a huge array of topics comes to mind. One of these questions is, “what will happen to my property taxes?” You can expect that since a home no longer exists on the property, its taxable value will be quite different. Property taxes are based on the value of the home, therefore, the assessment will be adjusted downwards to reflect the fact that there is no longer a home. The Boulder County Assessor’s Office has quickly responded with guidelines to help you understand what happens. The Assessor’s office works with the Boulder Office of Emergency Management to assess the damage to properties as quickly and safely as possible with a physical inspection.

The first step for a homeowner is to report the damage to their home to the Assessor by completing the damage assessment form, available here: www.crisistrack.com/public/boulderCO/request.html

The land value will remain, but the loss of the improvement will be prorated to reflect the reduction in value caused by the fire in the year of the destruction or damage.

Cynthia Braddock, the Boulder County Assessor, has granted permission to relay the wealth of information to help property owners understand the process of property taxes and the loss of a home below:

• For Destroyed properties (in 2021) the State of Colorado will reimburse Boulder County taxes for the destroyed physical residence or structure. Property owners will receive a tax bill for the land only assessed at the residential rate of 7.15%

• Damaged properties will receive a 2021 tax bill for the entire property (land and structure) at the assessment rate of 7.15%.

Additionally, upon request, and free of charge, the Assessor’s Office can provide copies of all official valuation documents, property descriptions, photographs and more.

The documents below contain further explanation of the Assessor’s process in valuing properties destroyed and damage by natural causes:

Division of Property Taxation brochure on Properties destroyed by natural causes
Division of Property Taxation Video on properties destroyed by natural causes

For more information or assistance email: [email protected] or call 303.441.3530. You will need to provide your street address and the property owners name so they can quickly identify the property in their records and contact information so they can reach you. Office hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday.

If you have questions regarding Business Personal Property that was damaged or destroyed in the Marshall Fire, contact the Assessor’s Office via the same manner: by email at [email protected], by calling 303.441.3530 and note that in your correspondence or message.

For replacement home / property deed records or vehicle titles, see Clerk & Recorder Services.

Frequently asked questions:

What will my 2021 tax bill (payable in 2022) look like? For destroyed properties, the State of Colorado will pay the taxes on the residence/structure(s). Property owners will still be responsible for the taxes on the land. For damaged properties, property owners will receive a tax bill based on the 2021 value of the property.

Where do I find a sketch of my home? The Assessor’s Office may have a drawing of your home’s footprint. Email [email protected]; include the address and owner names in the email or call the Assessor’s office at 303.441.3530.

What about my property value in 2022? For destroyed properties, the value of the residence/structure(s) will be removed. The land will be classified as residential for the 2022, 2023 and 2024 tax years and may remain so classified for a total of up to five subsequent tax years, if there is reasonable evidence that the owner intends to build a residence.

Assessed at the 6.95% residential assessment rate.

Reviewed by the Assessor Appraisal staff to determine that appropriate classification for the 2025 tax year forward. Property owners will receive a Notice of Valuation on May 1, 2022.

For damaged properties, The value will be reviewed by Assessor Appraisal staff. Providing documentation to the Assessor’s Office of cost to cure damage is important in understanding the amount of damage to impacted property. Property owners will receive a Notice of Valuation on May 1, 2022.

My house has smoke damage, how will this affect my property value? State law does not directly address smoke damage from a fire. The Assessor’s office will be gathering information from other entities to measure damage, determine when an adjustment is appropriate, and determine how much the adjustment should be. Any property that receives an adjustment for 2022, will receive a new Notice of Valuation in May 2022

What is an ‘improvement’?
“Improvement” refers to any residence/structure/building located on the parcel.

How is land value decided? Land is valued based on market sales that occurred between 7/1/2015 and 6/30/2020, per state law

The Assessor’s Office reviewing information on impacts of the Marshall fire on the land for valuation.

What if the land is so damaged it cannot be built on? Please contact the assessor’s office, email [email protected]; include the address and owner names in the email or call the Assessor’s office at 303.441.3530. These will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

My business was destroyed or damaged, what do I do? Please contact the assessor’s office, email [email protected]; or call the Assessor’s Office at 303.441.3530 and speak with April Myco for assistance.

If my commercial property/improvements have been destroyed or damaged? Please contact the assessor’s office, email [email protected] or contact Brian Floyd, [email protected], 303.678.6371 or Corey Kallembach, 303.441.4769, [email protected] for assistance.

It would be helpful if the ownership group can provide any information that can assist in our assessment of the property damage including any estimates you gather for remediation, demolition, insurance estimates, or estimates from mortgage companies. Additionally, data surrounding tenant’s ability to pay rent and/or stay in the space, lease amendments, expense amendments or rent relief/amendments and the anticipated downtime or time to re-build/re-tenant the space.

I have a Senior Exemption on my house- what happens now? The exemption will remain on the property. If a property owner purchases a new home in any county in Colorado, the exemption can be transferred. Please contact the assessor’s office if you purchase a home in another county so we can remove the exemption in Boulder. (Rental properties do not qualify). If you rebuild and return to the original property, the exemption can either be transferred back or has remained in place.

If you have any additional questions, contact the assessor’s office, email [email protected]; include the address, owner names, and your question(s) or call the Assessor’s office at 303.441.3530

Visit the Boulder County Assessor Office website for more information at: www.bouldercounty.org/departments/assessor.

By Duane Duggan. Duane is an award-winning Realtor® and author of the book Realtor for Life. He has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982 and has facilitated over 2,500 transactions over his career. He has been awarded two of the highest honors bestowed by RE/MAX International: The Lifetime Achievement Award and the Circle of Legends Award. For questions, email [email protected], call 303.441.5611 or visit boulderco.com.