Frequently Asked Questions

Why is property taxed in Colorado?

Your tax dollars are used by local government and taxing entities to provide funding for roads, schools, parks, libraries, fire protection, police protection, water, sewer, health and other services.

What does my County Assessor do?

By law, your County Assessor is responsible for listing and valuing property in a uniform and equal manner. The Assessor’s appraisal staff determines the appropriate value of your property. The amount of property taxes you pay depends on the budgets set by local government, special assessments and an amount distributed to public schools.

What is the Assessor’s Office required to do?

Pursuant to Colorado State General Property Tax Law, the Assessor’s Office is required to appraise all real property and to determine prescribed equalization in assessments. The total valuation of all property, as determined by the County Assessor, is certified to the state and county and approved by the Colorado Division of Property Taxation. Valuation of the various school districts and of towns and incorporated districts are certified to their respective boards. After the levies are certified to the Assessor, it is then her duty to extend the tax on all properties assessed and direct the County Treasurer to collect them.

How does the Assessor establish the value of property?

The assessment date is January 1st of each year, for taxes payable the following year. For residential properties, the Assessor must determine actual market value. This is based on style, size, amenities, location, and other property characteristics, which is then compared to similar properties that have sold during the sales study period. Those sales nearest to the end of the sales study period would be the most representative. Keep in mind that residential properties can only be valued by the market approach (due to the Tabor Amendment). For most non-residential properties, the Assessor considers comparable sales information, construction cost, depreciation, and the income approach to value.

What are the factors used in determining value?

By law, the Assessor must consider a variety of market based information in appraising different kinds of property:

  • Vacant Land (PDF): Sales of similar land taking place during the study period adjusted for time and physical differences such as size, topography and access to amenities.
  • Residential Homes (PDF): Market sales of similar homes, taken from the current study period adjusted for time and property differences such as size, location, or age.
  • Commercial Property (PDF): Market sales of similar commercial property; and market based less depreciation plus the land value. The Assessor’s job is to analyze all pertinent information and reconcile it into an accurate, fair estimate of value.

What is the Market Approach? 

Also known as the sales comparison method of appraisal, by law, residential properties must be valued by the market approach. This predicts the price a property would bring on the open market in a transaction between a willing, informed and knowledgeable buyer and seller. It includes a review of comparable sales in the study period. Time trending is a technique for estimating the current market value of residential properties.

What is the Cost Approach?

The cost approach estimates the material and labor costs to replace a building with a similar one. If the building is not new, the appraisal must consider its age and how much it has depreciated over time.

What is the Income Approach?

The income approach is used for properties such as stores, office buildings and warehouses. This method considers the landlord’s income and operating expenses and the financial return most people would expect from a given type of investment property.

How can I verify the value on my property?

View the market (sales) information from the most recent reappraisal. (From the Assessment Process page, choose Reappraisal Sales from the bar on the left).  A staff member can assist you in locating the sales that are similar to your property. For more recent sales, go to the Property Record Search, and choose ’Sales Search’. Select criteria to help narrow the search.

Where do I find sales of properties that are comparable to my property?

Market (sales) information is available on our Reappraisal Sales page. (From the Assessment Process page, choose Reappraisal Sales from the bar on the left). All sales of properties are recorded with the Clerk & Recorder’s Office. These recorded documents are then used to update the Assessor’s records. This data is public information and we will gladly show you how to obtain the required information. A Real Estate office is another good source for information on sold properties.

What is a "Sales Study Period?"

According to State Statute, the Assessor is required to gather and confirm sales within an eighteen-month period ending on the June 30th of the year prior to a reappraisal year, time adjusting each sale to the June 30th ending date. This data-gathering period is referred to as the Sales Study Period. While statute prescribes an eighteen-month study period, assessors are allowed to extend the study period back in time in six-month increments up to 60 months to ensure enough qualified sales within each economic area. Gunnison County generally utilizes a 24-month study period for residential and vacant land properties, and a 36-month study period for commercial properties.

How do I estimate taxes on a new house?

Multiply the current purchase price by the current assessment rate (6.95%). Multiply this answer by the mill levy in your area, and move the decimal point 3 spaces to the left. For more information see How Property Taxes are Determined.

How do I estimate taxes on vacant land?

Multiply the current purchase price by the current assessment rate (27.9%). Multiply this answer by the mill levy in your area, and move the decimal point 3 spaces to the left. For more information see How Property Taxes are Determined.

My property’s value increased significantly - will my property taxes will also increase significantly?

Your tax bill may increase, but keep in mind that your tax bill will not change at the same rate as your property value because the Colorado Constitution and Statutes contain provisions to stabilize residential values and to limit local government spending. Colorado law prohibits taxing districts from increasing revenue more than the amount of local growth plus inflation, unless voters have allowed the taxing districts to bypass these taxing limitations. However, taxing districts may utilize any credit levy they have to increase the number of mills, which can result in the tax amount changing only slightly, despite a value drop. An election is held and voters approve, in advance, an increase above the current revenue limitations. Local growth is determined by either a percentage change in student enrollment for school districts or based on a new construction formula for all other districts. Inflation is defined as the percentage change in the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for Denver, Boulder. Revenue increases are limited to a maximum 5.5% even if inflation exceeds this percentage, unless voters have elected to allow taxing entities to exceed this limit. For more information, see this the TABOR and Gallagher Amendments on this website.

Why is vacant and commercial property assessed at 27.9%, and residential at a much lower percentage?

The differences in assessment rates between residential homes and other types of property is the result of an amendment to the Colorado Constitution (known as the Gallagher Amendment) approved by the voters in 1982, which limited the residential share of the property taxes. The State Legislature adjusts the residential assessment rate each reappraisal year to keep the property tax burden from shifting to residential property. This is the Gallagher Amendment in action.

Who sets the tax rate or mill levy?

Tax rates (mill levies) are determined by each taxing authority (County, Cities and Towns, School Districts, Fire Departments, Water and Sanitation Districts, and others) in the fall of each year. These authorities provide services to you and are listed on your annual tax notice. Amendment I, the Tabor Amendment, was approved by the voters in 1992 and restricts the ability of taxing authorities to raise tax rates or revenue without voter approval. Some tax authorities have chosen to provide temporary tax credits, which allow the tax districts to maintain its official mill levy and not exceed revenue limits. See Taxing Districts and Authorities (PDF) for more information.

Are foreclosure sales considered?

There are two parts to foreclosures.

  1. The first is when the lender acquires the property due to the property owner defaulting on their mortgage. This is not a sale. An outside bidder can also acquire the property by bidding higher than the lender at the foreclosure proceedings. This is also not considered a valid or qualified sale for the Assessor’s records.
    Foreclosures represent the transfer of the property ownership to the lender due to loan default, that transaction does not give evidence of market value. Rather, it represents the amount of the lien, interests and costs due to the lender, or else the amount the lender is willing to settle for, which may not be the entire property value. In some cases, the lien amount may be more than the value of the property. These transactions are not sales and are excluded from the Assessor’s analysis.
  2. Resale of foreclosure properties occurs when the lending institution who has acquired the property through foreclosure, places the property on the open market for sale.
    Resale of foreclosed properties are only considered valid and qualified for the Assessor’s records if they meet the state requirements: property listed on the open market for a reasonable time period, sale not between related parties, etc. Unless the condition of the property at the time of sale indicates otherwise, these sales are deemed to be arm’s length transactions and are used by the Assessor in the valuation process.

What is time trending and why is it necessary?

Residential properties, by law, must be valued solely by the market approach, using comparable verified sales from the study period ending the June 30th prior to January of the reappraisal year. The Assessor may go back in time in six month increments up to five years for their study period data. In Gunnison County, we use a 24 month minimum study period to eliminate seasonal differences that may affect the market in an 18 month period. In reappraisals with low sales volume, 48 to 60 months of sales may be necessary to comply with audit requirements. These same statutes require the adjustment of sales prices within this study period to the end of the data period. Sales of residential homes taking place during the sales study period are analyzed to establish the residential time trend adjustments. Since the law requires that sales prices be adjusted for time to the end of the study period on the June 30 appraisal date, it’s as if all homes that sold during the study period were sold on the June 30 end date and the time adjusted sales prices (TASP) reflect market conditions on that date.

If I bought my house within the last two years, shouldn’t the value be the same as what I paid for it?

One sale by itself does not determine market value. In addition, inflation and other market conditions may affect the market value of your home as of January 1. The price you paid for your house is verified by the county appraiser and then considered along with sales of similar properties.

How is actual square footage determined?

The Assessor’s Office uses exterior measurements of homes and buildings. This may cause the Assessor’s estimate of square footage to differ from that estimated by the builder or realtor since they frequently use interior measurements. The valuation procedures used by the Assessor are adjusted to account for the use of exterior measurements, which helps to assure correct values.

The square footage the Assessor lists for my house is different from what the building plans indicate. Why is that?

Real estate appraisers measure residences from the outside, so the square footage of areas includes the thickness of exterior walls. In taking these measurements, our office rounds to the nearest ½ foot (for example, if a wall measures 18’ 7 inches, it is rounded down to 18’ 6 inches; but if it measures 18’ 10 inches, it is rounded up to 19 feet), so sometimes the rounding will cause a difference in listed square footage. In other cases, building plans may list only the area inside the exterior walls as living area, so that can account for differences of several hundred square feet when compared to areas based on including the exterior walls.

My house wasn’t complete on January 1st. How was it valued?

All property in Colorado is valued as it exists on January 1st of the current year. If a structure is not fully built on that date a partial value reflecting the percentage of completion is used.

My property doesn’t compare to the expensive home down the street that just sold. Is the Assessor valuing my property based on that property?

Although location is very important in the valuation of real estate, it is not the only factor. Other factors to be considered in choosing good comparable sales are similarity in size, quality, style, and condition of the residential improvements. Therefore, other sales are also being considered in the valuation of your property.

I would like to get my property classified as agricultural. What are the requirements?

The Agricultural Classification is for those properties engaged in farming or ranching for the primary purpose of obtaining a monetary profit. For a farm, the land must be used to produce agricultural products. For a ranch, the land must be used for grazing livestock, and the livestock must be used for food for human or animal consumption, breeding, draft, or profit. Pleasure horses and horse boarding operations do not qualify for the Agricultural Classification. Additionally, the property must have a two-year prior history of a qualifying agricultural use, and income documentation (IRS 1040 F forms, receipts, lease agreements, etc.) for those prior years must be provided. For more information, see our Agricultural Property web page.

If I disagree with the Assessor’s valuation of my property, what should I do?

Property owners can appeal the Assessor’s valuation of their property between May 1st and June 8th of each year. You may appeal your assessment in writing or in person by scheduling a hearing with an appraiser. See the Appeals Process section of this web site for guidelines on how to appeal your assessment.

What if I disagree with the total actual value of the property?

Fill out the Mail-in Appeal Form – Real Property on this website or the real property appeal form on your Notice of Valuation. You may also contact the Assessor’s Office in writing, without a form. Protesting by email is the most expedient way to protest. Keep in mind that residential properties can only be valued by the market approach. Inform the Assessor what you believe your property’s value to be and include a basis for this, e.g., sales of properties that are comparable to yours and support your proposed value.

My Notice of Valuation shows land value and improvement value, but I didn’t make any improvements. Why did my value increase when I have not done anything to improve my property?

The word "improvements" on your Notice of Value is the terminology used to identify everything added or put onto the land, such as buildings. Though you may have changed nothing about your home, if you are showing an increase in value, then the market value of your home in Gunnison County may have increased.

When should I appeal my total value?

Notices of Valuation are mailed May 1. Please read the notice carefully. There are specific dates for mailing your appeal or for hand delivery of your appeal. Contact your Assessor’s Office during the appeal period of May 1 through June 8. Don’t wait until you receive your tax bill the following January! Procedures for appealing your assessment are provided in the Assessment Appeals Process on this website.

What happens after I appeal?

The Gunnison County Assessor’s Office will review your appeal and respond to you in writing by August 15th with a Notice of Determination (NOD). If you are not satisfied with the Assessor’s determination, you may make a written appeal on or before September 15th to the Gunnison County Board of Equalization (CBOE).

Is the month of May the only time I can appeal a valuation?

No. The Assessor’s Office is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. to answer your questions and to ensure that all valuations are fair. During the month of May, office hours are 9:00 am to 4 pm. You are welcome to stop by or call us any time to discuss your value. However, to preserve your legal right to appeal a decision of the Assessor’s to the County Board of Equalization, you must first make a formal appeal, in person, by e-mail, by fax, or in writing, to the Assessor by June 1. Remember, the Assessor’s goal is to value your property as accurately as possible. As a property owner, your participation in this process is encouraged.

What is the Taxpayer’s responsibility?

If the Notice of Valuation reflects a value you disagree with or if you have questions about the valuation, contact your County Assessor. If you do not receive a Notice you must call our office or you may lose you rights to further appeal. Do not wait until you receive your tax bill next January.

If you are dissatisfied with the County Board of Equalization’s Decision:

You may appeal to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA), to the County Commissioners for binding arbitration, or the District Court of the county in which the property is located. You must appeal within 30 days of the County Board of Equalization’s decision. Your determination for the County Board of Equalization will include procedures to file for arbitration, a BAA hearing, or District Court.

What about decisions reached through the arbitration process?

Decisions reached through the arbitration procedure are final and not subject to review.

Who pays the taxes due on property I sold or purchased?

Real property tax is the responsibility of the owner of record January 1st of each year. Private contracts between buyer and seller will often specify who pays the taxes or how the taxes are prorated based on the date of title conveyance. The proration is generally completed at the closing with the title company.

How do I change my mailing address?

Mail or email this change of address form (PDF). Once received, this form will update mailings from the Gunnison County Assessor and Treasurer offices only.

How do I change my name or add a name, or take a name off the ownership of my property?

A new deed must be recorded in the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, 221 N. Wisconsin, Suite C, in Gunnison.

What is the difference between a Quitclaim Deed and a Warranty Deed?

A Quitclaim Deed is a form of property conveyance in which any interest the seller possesses in the property described in the deed is conveyed to the buyer without warranty of title. A Warranty Deed conveys to the buyer title to the property free and clear of all encumbrances, except those specifically set forth in the deed.

How do I change title on my property?

The title on property can be changed via a recorded deed. The Assessor’s Office is an "office of record," which means changes in ownership or property boundaries are done based on recorded deeds, surveys, subdivision plats, and other documents pertaining to ownership. Deeds must be recorded at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office before the Assessor’s records can be modified to reflect any changes.

Should I bring you a copy of the recorded deed?

It isn’t necessary to bring us a copy of the recorded deed. The Assessor’s Office accesses all recorded documents from the Clerk and Recorder’s Office that concern ownership changes.

How can I correct the acreage on my property description?

The acreage on the property description is determined by a recorded deed, certified survey (which corresponds to a recorded deed), or a recorded subdivision map.

What if I change my address?

It is the responsibility of the property owner to notify the Assessor’s Office of any change in mailing address. To protect the taxpayer from an erroneous address change, the address used by the Assessor’s Office will not be changed without the property owner’s consent. Call our office or contact us by email to let us know your new address. Once updated, the Treasurer’s records will also be corrected.