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Campbell County assessor answers questions about new property tax relief laws

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Jonathan Gallardo with the Gillette News Record, via the Wyoming News Exchange

GILLETTE — Wyoming lawmakers passed a few bills this past legislative session to provide property tax relief to homeowners around the state.

The Campbell County Assessor’s office has already fielded calls from residents interested in the exemptions, Campbell County Assessor Troy Clements said at an elected officials meeting this week.

House Bill 3, which included a property tax exemption for long-time homeowners, is one that seems to be drawing a lot of interest locally.

“We’ve had a lot of people inquiring about that,” Clements said.

People who are 65 years or older and have paid property taxes in Wyoming for at least 25 years are eligible for an exemption of 50% of their home's assessed value. This exemption takes effect Jan. 1, 2025, and will go away July 1, 2027.

It also applies to the surviving spouses of property owners who would have qualified for the exemption if they were alive.

The assessment rate for residential properties is 9.5%. That means that of a house’s market value, 9.5% of that is assessed for property tax. For someone who owns a $200,000 house, the assessed value would be $19,000. If that person lived in Gillette, he would have to pay about $1,300 in property tax, Clements said.

If that person qualifies for the homestead exemption, he would only have to pay half of that, or $650.

“Are you able to track that one easily?” Commissioner Jim Ford asked.

“I’ll be honest with you. No,” Clements said. “I don’t have the manpower to go through that. Of course we know a lot of the people that have been here for years, we can do a quick spot check here and there, look those up and make sure.”

House Bill 45 limits the amount that one’s property taxes can increase from year to year to 4%. If one’s property value increased by 20% in a year, for example, that person’s taxes would only go up by 4%.

When owners get their assessment schedule, which compares the values and taxes of one’s property in the current year and the previous year, they’ll see a new line item showing how much of an exemption they got, Clements said.

“It’ll be a big help,” he said. “The values are way higher than what I thought they’d be at this time.”

The bill went into effect immediately, and there is no sunset date on the law. Two attempts to add a sunset date of July 1, 2027, to the bill failed in the House.

If lawmakers ever decide to do away with the exemption, Clements said people could see their property taxes skyrocket.

“If that sunsets, it could go up substantially,” he said. “My hope is that things mellow out by then, plateau a little bit, but yeah, that very well could be the case.”

Veterans also got help with Senate File 89, which increases the property tax exemption for veterans.

The new law doubles that exemption from $3,000 to $6,000 for veterans who’ve lived in Wyoming for at least three years. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2025.

Clements said that an average veteran would have saved $180 on his property taxes each year, but next year he’ll save about $350.

He advised any veterans who are not taking advantage of the exemption to come into the assessor’s office to get signed up. They must bring their DD214 form, and “we can see when they served, what medals they received, and we fill out a card for them that we keep on file,” Clements said.

Veterans have to sign that card by the fourth Monday in May in order to qualify for the current calendar year, Clements said. If they’re unable to sign it in person, they can let the assessor’s office know and one of the employees there will sign it for them.

House Bill 4, which expanded the eligibility of the state’s property tax refund program, also took effect immediately. Clements said that if someone’s not sure if they qualify, they can go to the treasurer’s office and fill out the form.

“As long as you paid your taxes, you might get something back,” he said.

This story was published on April 5, 2024.

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