April 13, 2021

Law Week Colorado Turns to Sarah Kellner for Insight on Property Tax Evaluations

Law Week Colorado reported in its article, “Pandemic Brings Unpredictability for Commercial Property Assessments,” that county assessors are looking at data from January 2019 through June 2020 to calculate property’s value as of June 30, 2020. The publication turned to construction and real estate litigation partner Sarah Kellner for insight on how that data will impact assessments.

Kellner explained that assessors initially value property based on a mass appraisal process that doesn’t look at specific properties and said, “I think, because of the unique nature of this year, that the mass appraisal of a lot of property is going to be misaligned with the actual value of the property on that date.”

The article also highlighted that challenges to property assessments are likely. “I’m certainly encouraging clients to take a long, hard look and to consider protests, even if they have not done so in the past,” Kellner said.

“If you’re in the hotel industry or you’re in the retail industry or the commercial office space industry — some of these industries that saw massive hits in 2020 — cash flow is not ideal,” Kellner said. “So you want to try to find savings wherever you possibly can. You definitely want to be looking at appealing your taxes this year.”

Kellner said that at every level of the appeal process, a closer look is taken at the actual value of a specific property. “I do think that people should start on that process. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to get the county to reduce your value at the early stages,” she said, “but you’re at least giving yourself the opportunity to argue and present your case to either the board of assessment appeals or even in district court.”

Kellner added that property owners should act fast if they want to protest. “The turnaround is very quick,” she said, adding that most tax professionals have systems in place to quickly analyze a valuation to “determine whether or not there’s meat on the bone there to appeal.”

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