In recent weeks, the City of Denver has sent out new property tax assessments establishing the value of local residences and the amount that homeowners will have to pay to remain in the city's good graces — and most of these folks have received unpleasant surprises. Based on a sampling of properties throughout the city, plenty of Denver homeowners were hit with double-digit property tax hikes. A couple went up by more than 25 percent.
And those big bills — many of the increases measure in the hundreds of dollars — will be coming due soon.
According to this Denver web page, property taxes can be paid in a lump sum or two installments. If homeowners opt for the first method, payment in full is due by April 30. Those who choose the latter need to make payment one by the last day of February (yes, this very month) and payment two by June 15. The Denver property tax calendar offers more details.
Note that taxes are billed in arrears, meaning that 2020 taxes are assessed as of January 1 but aren't due and payable until January 1, 2021. That gives homeowners a chance to dispute the valuations — and we share tips for doing so below.
To get a sense of property tax changes in Denver, we searched its property taxation and assessment system database, which allows users to look up current information on pretty much any property within city limits. We picked a random series of house numbers to get information about fifteen properties in major quadrants: north, south, east and west. To protect owners' privacy, we'll refer to the properties by block and neighborhood rather than specific addresses — and we've categorized them by increases of less than 5 percent (with some interesting outliers), increases between 5 and 10 percent, and increases of more than 10 percent.
INCREASES OF LESS THAN 5 PERCENT
Home prices have been steadily rising in Denver over a period of years, but we found one residence, on the 6600 block of East Floyd Avenue in the Hampden neighborhood, that saw its assessed value actually sink: From $546,000 in 2019 to $513,700 in 2020. As a result, the owner's property taxes are also dropping, from $3,041.21 to $2,649.54, a slide of 13 percent or so that will lead to $391.67 in savings.
Even more surprising was a house on the 3300 block of East 12th Avenue, in Congress Park, that was assessed at $943,500 in 2020 versus $897,900 in 2019. Nonetheless, the tax actually slid from $5,000.88 to $4,864.94, a nearly 3 percent drop that will save the owners $135.93. And the folks living in a home on the 2200 block of West 33rd Avenue, in the Highland neighborhood, did even better: The place's assessed value in 2019 was $478,800 and in 2020 was $531,900, but the taxes dropped from $5,899.85 in 2019 to $5,679.14 this year — an almost 4 percent tumble that translates to $220.71.
That's like winning the Denver property tax lottery.
The person who holds the deed to a home on the 4400 block of Andes Street, in Green Valley Ranch, was almost as fortunate. The residence earned a 2019 assessment of $227,700 and a 2020 update of $241,300, leading to assessed property taxes that went from $1,590.63 to $1,597.35 — just $6.72 higher. Likewise, a house on the 9900 block of East Kentucky Drive, in Windsor Gardens, experienced a value jump from $396,800 in 2019 to $424,500 for 2020. But the property tax went up by only 1 percent or so: $1,653.29 to $1,673.09, just $19.80 more.
A Fort Logan neighborhood home on the 4400 block of South Winona Court saw a modest assessment bump by Denver standards: from $386,200 to $431,000. Its tax bill rose to $2,222.61 from $2,150.75, an extra $71.86, or a bit in excess of 3 percent.
INCREASES OF BETWEEN 5 AND 10 PERCENT
Our survey suggests that 7 percent was the unlucky number for quite a few Denver homeowners. Indeed, the increases in appraised value for three of the fifteen residences we analyzed landed just above this percentage.
A Stapleton home on the 8800 block of East 29th Place saw its assessed value go up by more than $70K from 2019 to 2020, from $554,600 to $628,300, and its property taxes mimicked the change; the 2020 demand for $5,926.16 represents a $438.93 boost. A Hampden South structure on the 7700 block of East Oxford Avenue wound up in the same range, owing to a 2019-2020 assessment elevation from $404,000 to $472,000. The tax bite headed in the same direction, $2,250.55 to $2,433.19, or $182.64 more.
Over on the 3300 block of South Kendall Street, in the Bear Valley neighborhood, a home's assessed value rose from $356,800 to $417,100, and so did its property taxes: $1,987.51 to $2,150.50 — up by $162.49.
A home on the 5500 block of West Prentice Circle, in the Marston neighborhood, surpassed these totals in terms of both the tax-increase percentage and actual dollars and cents. The assessed value ratcheted up by more than $100,000 — $697,400 in 2019, as compared to $806,600 in 2020. As a result, property taxes for this year were set at $6,582.21, a leap of $587.70 and about 9 percent.
INCREASES OF MORE THAN 10 PERCENT
Our last category is by far the most eye-popping, as you'll see in the data for the first three entrants:
2200 block of North Clermont Street
South Park Hill neighborhood
2019 actual assessment total: $590,400
2019 assessed property taxes: $3,288.78
2020 actual assessment total: $750,000
2020 assessed property taxes: $3,866.86
Percentage increase in property tax: 15 percent
Added property tax cost: $498.74
2300 block of West Elk Place
2019 actual assessment total: $335,400
2019 assessed property taxes: $1,311.34
2020 actual assessment total: $409,100
2020 assessed property taxes: $1,593.77
Percentage increase in property tax: 18 percent
Added property tax cost: $282.43
4400 block of North Fillmore Street
2019 actual assessment total: $290,800
2019 assessed property taxes: $1,620.03
2020 actual assessment total: $410,800
2020 assessed property taxes: $2,118.77
Percentage increase in property tax: 24 percent
Added property tax cost: $498.74
Although these are gulp-inducing digits, they're not the highest we encountered. A home on the 800 block of Irving Street, in Villa Park, was valued at $213,900 in 2019 and at $320,200 for 2020, a more than $100,000 difference. That took property taxes from $1,191.42 to $1,651.45, about a 28 percent hike. These homeowners will have to cobble together another $460.03 over last year.
And in Northeast Park Hill, a residence on the 5500 block of East Thrill Place had a thrilling assessment of $394,200 in 2020, even though it was valued at just $256,200 the year before. That led to a 30 percent increase in property taxes, $1,427.38 to $2,032.95, and a bill for an additional $605.57.
Fortunately, homeowners don't simply have to accept Denver's judgment on the value of their place. The city has created a web page called "Protesting Your Property Value." A protest is described as "an opportunity to demonstrate to the appraisal staff in the Assessor’s Office that your property’s assigned value or classification is inaccurate."
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Reasons for bringing such an action include incorrect property characteristics (listings that may have improper square footage estimates or characterization of condition) or evidence that the estimated value is higher than that of like properties. Each listing includes a "Comparables" tab that allows homeowners to check out five sales of other homes in the same area, and the amount they went for.
What happens next? "After a protest is submitted, it is assigned to a member of the appraisal staff, who will review the information presented and make a determination," the resource states. "A determination can either be to adjust the assigned value/classification, or deny the appeal and retain the current assigned value. The Assessor will notify you of the determination."
This may not sound like a worthwhile effort, but valuation adjustments actually happen in real life. Indeed, my family earned a break last year after protesting the value placed on our home in a different jurisdiction. The amount was fairly modest, but with assessments rising so quickly, it's definitely worth a shot.
Click to get started.