Colorado businesses ask governor for help with property-tax deferrals during coronavirus crisis

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More than 100 small and large businesses as well as chambers of commerce, economic-development agencies, and others from around the state have petitioned Gov. Jared Polis to work toward a long-term fix to property-tax deferrals during the COVID-19 crisis.

A letter sent to the governor today asks for his help in finding a legislative fix to state law that would permit counties and other taxing entities to defer interest and penalties on unpaid property taxes. If penalties are deferred, then businesses could delay payment of their taxes until later in the year and use that cash to support current operations threatened by the shutdowns and economic downturn caused by the virus.

“We … employ thousands of people, generate millions of dollars in economic activity, and serve thousands of voters in Colorado. The COVID-19 pandemic is crippling our economy and testing our resilience as Coloradans and Americans. We will emerge stronger as we find innovative ways to serve our customers, adapt our businesses to no-contact requirements, and search for every possible mechanism to keep our highly valued employees safe, healthy, and with the ability to support their families during this extraordinary time,” the letter writers said.

The businesses said the governor’s executive order gave local governments the ability to defer interest and penalties on unpaid property taxes, but the authority to do so ends when the executive order is no longer in place. Business owners would like more certainty and would like local governments to have the authority to defer penalties until late in the fourth quarter of the year.

“We’re trying to navigate what’s going on,” said Jason Sherrill, one of the owners of Landmark Homes in Northern Colorado, during a Zoom conference call Friday morning. “There are so many unknowns. We’re trying to maintain staff … and keep hundreds of trade partners active, too. Property tax deferral is critical to this cause,” he said.

Sherrill, and Stephanie Fancher-English, an owner of Loveland Ready-Mix Concrete Inc., said it is their understanding that a state law has to be changed in order to permit counties, for example, to defer penalties beyond 30 days. Weld County’s board of commissioners  attempted to defer penalties for a longer period but was told that it didn’t have the authority.

A change in the law would “provide companies a tool to manage cash flow; we need something long-term and reliable,” said Fancher.

Both business operators said they are not trying to get out of paying taxes, but being able to use that cash now to support operations would be helpful to maintaining jobs.

“It’s like a low-interest loan to us,” said Fancher.

Among the signers of the letter to the governor were builders and contractors, insurance agencies, Realtors, chambers of commerce and economic development agencies, oil and gas companies, local governments, brewers and a host of other small businesses.

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