The deadline for property tax reimbursement is approaching | News

CASPER — Wyoming residents have until June 6 to apply for a partial property tax rebate for 2021. To qualify for the state’s rebate program, funded this year for the first time since 2019, you must have a home and living in Wyoming for at least five years. years.

The program aims to give low-income taxpayers a break as property values ​​rise across the state.

This year, the Wyoming Legislature Committee on Revenue set aside $3 million from Wyoming’s general fund for reimbursements.

“People on fixed incomes, who own their property and have lived there for a long time, deserve some kind of tax relief,” said Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander and chair of the committee. “They don’t exactly have a lot of options.”

Your household income must also be less than 75% of your county’s median level.

That threshold is $73,658 in Teton County, $50,138 in Natrona County, and $39,308 in Goshen County, the lowest-paying county in the state.

Your other personal assets – for example, money in the bank as well as investments and other real estate – cannot total more than $133,651 in value to be eligible. Assets including your home (but not a second one), car, and retirement plans do not count towards this total.

And, of course, to claim a refund on your 2021 tax payment, you must prove that you paid it.

A full breakdown of qualifications and an application form is available from the Department of Revenue.

You can claim back up to half of your 2021 tax bill, but Case said it’s unlikely anyone will see such a high return.

The amount you receive will depend on how many people apply and qualify, given the program’s $3 million statewide cap.

Most people applying for the refunds are on some sort of fixed income, according to county assessors. Older Wyoming residents stand to benefit from the program, Wyoming AARP spokesman Tom Lacock said.

The organization held a virtual town hall on a recently passed county property tax rebate program that “several thousand members” attended, Lacock said. Afterwards, Lacock said the group received more responses from members “than any town hall I can remember”.

“When you’re in your 60s, 70s, 80s, you don’t go back to work… you kind of have what you have to spend. So a 15% to 20% increase in your property tax is really a big deal,” Lacock said.

Wyoming is home to the highest income county in the nation.

In Teton County, assessor Melissa Shinkle said about 100 people typically qualify for the state reimbursement program. Most of them are “longtime locals”, who have lived and worked in the area for decades and “find it hard to afford these tax increases”, she said.

Shinkle said she’s seen property values ​​in Teton County rise steadily in each of the five years she’s been an appraiser, and rates have risen further since the pandemic began.

The county is also the only one in the state to participate in a property tax deferral program, which allows qualified individuals to delay up to half of their payment on land under 40 acres. The program is restricted to people who have owned their land for more than 10 years, earn limited income, and are over age 62 or have a disability recognized by the Social Security Administration.

Teton County is an extreme example, even outside of Wyoming. But it’s not the only place in the state to see property values ​​skyrocket in recent years.

Shinkle said maybe if more people across Wyoming feel the heat from higher property taxes, it could put more pressure on the Wyoming Legislature to reduce the mandatory mills they levy for schools and the like. public services. “For things to change, we have to start accepting that income has to come from somewhere else,” she said.

In Park County, the Powell Tribune reported valuations of up to 25% to 45%, a jump from the 3% to 9% averages of years past.

Case told Lander that the home buying market got so hot during the pandemic that people were buying homes with cash above the asking price, on sight unseen.

Since 2018, landowners in Natrona County have complained about rising assessments on their land – with some seeing increases ranging from 100% to nearly 400%.

Some residents attribute the increases in Natrona County to Assessor Matt Keating taking office. But Keating says he only corrected years of undervalued valuations of his predecessors. The office has been under a work order from the State Board of Equalization since 2019 to bring county values ​​into compliance with state law.

“It’s surprising how many people come into my office who are on fixed incomes,” he said, “so I’m really grateful this year that we have something to help those people who are just short of silver.”

Keating said he printed the rebate program information on the back of every assessment notice his office sent out this year — more than 47,000 in total — to let people know it was an option.

“When you don’t have much to offer in the way of help,” Shinkle said, “it’s frustrating for taxpayers and it’s frustrating for assessors.”

This spring, the Wyoming legislature also passed another property tax refund option that could provide additional relief in years to come.

The optional county program requires county governments to join the program and set aside a certain amount of money to fund it. That money would replace any reimbursement given by the county, serving the same local purpose as the $3 million allocated to the state program this year.

“The local government depends on these taxes,” Case said. “So they have to be paid one way or another. You can’t just not collect the money.

No county opted into the program this year, in part due to the tight time frame between passing the program and developing local government budgets, which some counties have yet to begin this year.

Shinkle said that when Teton commissioners were discussing the program, numbers as high as $3 million were dismissed as possible county contributions. In Teton County, where 87% of the county’s tax revenue comes from residential properties, that would mean the county could make up that difference with other property tax revenue.

But in most other places in Wyoming, like Natrona County, that backfill would more likely come from precious fossil fuel tax revenues.

“Teton County has more options than other counties for finding the makeup funds,” Case said. “They’re just richer in a lot of ways, just about any revenue-raising metric they have is more effective there.”

Paul Bertoglio, chairman of the Natrona County Commission, said the board decided to table the county’s optional program for this year because commissioners were unsure the county was equipped to administer it. Staffing could be an issue, he said, and the county would have to somehow find the money to pay those reimbursements.

“I explained everything to the commissioners, and they agreed that until we have a better understanding of the cost and who is going to do it, all these questions, we would not be able to implement it”, said Bertoglio.

Keating, the Natrona County assessor, said that in future years, if you live in a county participating in the optional program, you may be able to apply there as well as the state one.

This story was published on May 22, 2022.