Legislature

Senior tax relief bill advances

Measure would also assist widows of military veterans

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A bill aimed at providing seniors with property tax relief is moving through the Legislature.

Under the bill, widows of military veterans and seniors who lose homes as a result of natural disasters would benefit from tax exemptions.

It is a bipartisan effort that Rep. Steve Lebsock, D-Thornton, said, “is one of my favorite bills that I've sponsored. … It's going to make a big difference for folks.”

House Bill 1373 makes changes to the state's Homestead Exemption, where qualifying seniors are exempt from having to pay a portion of their property taxes.

Lebsock said the bill addresses two inequities in the program.

Right now, seniors whose homes are destroyed by natural disasters, and who then move out of the flood plain, do not qualify for the tax relief. The bill would change that, so that seniors who are impacted by floods or wildfires are not left with an even bigger financial burden, just because they move.

The bill also allows a surviving spouse of a fully disabled veteran who dies to also benefit from the tax exemption. Under current law, the exemption applies only to veterans who are living in their homes, but not the spouses who take over the property when the veteran dies.

The bill would help widows like Susan Romani, whose husband died in 1995 from cancer as a result of Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.

“We bought a home, but all of the sudden, when he passed, my income was cut in half. But the bills kept coming in,” Romani said during an April 16 House Finance Committee hearing.

The bill passed the House with bipartisan support on April 21. It now heads to the Senate.

“It's only fair to allow this for the folks who have done so much for us,” said Rep. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, a bill co-sponsor.