The abatement process enables taxpayers to contest the property taxes billed by a county, and its use is required to change tax amounts after the tax warrant is delivered to the treasurer, 39-10-114, C.R.S. The term “abatement” is frequently used to refer to either an abatement or a refund because the abatement petition form is used under both circumstances. A property owner or the owner’s agent may file an abatement petition with the county to officially request either an abatement of taxes due or a refund of taxes paid.
Abatement petitions may be filed within two years of the date the taxes were due, 39-10-114(1)(a)(I)(A) C.R.S., provided that
- the property valuation has not been previously protested and
- the person or entity filing for abatement was the owner of record for the year(s) being abated.
Case law provides that the taxpayer has until the first working day of the January following the two years deadline.
The filing of the form Petition For Abatement or Refund of Taxes, available in the Assessor’s office or downloaded from the Douglas County Assessor’s website, is the first step in a process of appeal that is lengthy and may take up to six months before a decision is rendered on the appeal.
Note: There are two different forms available to file an abatement – a form to apply for a single year and also a form for two years.
Complete Section I of the abatement form:
- Petitioner’s name and mailing address and email address
- The schedule/parcel numbers to be abated as well as their legal description and/or property address
- Property tax year(s) to be considered for the abatement
- Reason for filing the petition – briefly describe the circumstances surrounding the incorrect value or tax in the space provided. You may attach additional sheets if necessary.
- Enter your estimate of value for each year petitioned
- Sign and include a daytime telephone number
- If someone other than the owner of record is submitting the form, the agent must sign the petition and include a daytime telephone number. Agent authorization must accompany the abatement petition.
Submit any supporting document with the petition:
The abatement appeal process is independent of all other forms of appeal and is reviewed on the merits of the information provided with the filing of the petition of abatement. All information previously submitted to the Assessor’s office, outside the abatement process, will not be considered if copies have not been provided with the filing of the abatement petition. Attach any supporting documentation to the abatement petition. If an appraisal with an analysis and estimate of value is submitted with the petition, the appraiser’s proof of a valid Colorado appraiser’s license must be submitted with the abatement petition.
The abatement appeals process is handled through the County Attorney’s Office who receives all petitions, sets up case files, sends files to the Assessor’s Office for review and waits for a recommendation from the Assessor. Once a recommendation is presented, one of three things happen with the case as follows, based on the Assessor finding:
Assessor and Taxpayer Agree to Value:
- If less than $10,000 tax refund the abatement is sent to the Treasurer’s Office for the refund to be processed.
- If the refund is $10,000 or more the abatement is presented in a resolution to the Board of County Commissioners for approval. Once approved by the Commissioners, it is remanded to the Division of Property Taxation (DPT) for their approval. When it is returned from the DPT, the Treasurer processes a refund.
Assessor and Taxpayer Do Not Agree to Value:
- The Assessor’s Office transmits the Abatement Petition to the County Attorney’s Office so that the case may be scheduled. The hearing date is communicated to the petitioner and at that time they may state their case before a Hearing Officer.
Hearings are scheduled on an as-needed basis, generally once a month. Ten days prior to a hearing date, petitioner and Assessor’s Office must exchange data. The exchange shall be facilitated by the Office of the County Attorney. Hearing officers are instructed to refuse evidence that has not been exchanged prior to hearing. Hearings will be conducted in a similar manner to County Board of Equalization. Petitioner may do a call-in hearing specific to their hearing time, or present evidence to be read by the hearing officer if they are unable to appear or call-in. Telephonic appearances are not excused from the 10-day exchange rule. Any evidence presented by Petitioners appearing by telephone must be exchanged ten days prior to the date of hearing.
Hearing officer has 30 days after the hearing to present a recommendation to the Board. Hearing Officer recommendations for the disposition of Abatement Appeals are presented in a Resolution to the Board of County Commissioners for their approval at a regular business meeting.
Decision may be reviewed by the Division of Property Taxation…
If the County Commissioners approve the petition and the tax amount is more than $10,000 per account, the petition is forwarded to the Property Tax Administrator for review 39-1-113(3) and 39-2-116 C.R.S. The review ensures that the approval is in conformity with the Colorado Constitution, state statutes and case law. If further documentation is required, the Administrator contacts the Assessor and may also contact the petitioner. The Administrator may approve the petition and return it to the county for processing, or the petition may be denied in whole or in part. If the Administrator denies the petition, in whole or in part, the taxpayer is notified in writing of the decision and also the right of appeal to the BAA (Board of Assessment Appeals) within 30 days of the date the Administrator’s decision was mailed.
Denied petitions may be appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals…
Appeals to the BAA are considered “de novo” hearings; in other words, the taxpayer and the county may present new evidence. Evidence submitted originally to the county board may be supplemented. Appeals to the BAA must be filed within 30 days of the date the decision was mailed.
If an agent files an appeal on behalf of the taxpayer, the BAA requires a filing fee. Taxpayers may represent themselves with no filing fee required. The Board of Assessment Appeals mails notices of hearing to the county commissioners and the petitioner at least 30 days prior to the hearing date.
The BAA publishes its own rules. One rule, Rule 11, requires parties to exchange information ten business days prior to hearing. The information must be in the possession of the parties 10 days prior to hearing, so time must be allowed for mailing. Rebuttal information is exchanged 3 days prior to hearing. Information and documentation not provided to the other party is generally not allowed to be presented at the hearing.
If the appeal is granted by the BAA, the taxpayer need only present a certified copy of the order to the treasurer and the taxpayer will receive the appropriate refund of taxes, plus interest. The refund is paid to the appellant, even if the appellant is not the current owner of the property.
Appeals denied by BAA may be appealed to the Court of Appeals…
Decisions of the BAA may be appealed to the Court of Appeals within 45 days for judicial review.