How To Apply For Property Tax Relief in 2024

Posted on 05/01/24

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After multiple years of double-digit property tax increases for some in Wyoming, property tax relief was at the forefront of Wyoming Legislators' minds during the 2024 Legislative Session. In the end, four bills were passed into law, which will strongly impact Wyoming’s homeowners.

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee carried much of the water for the property tax relief conversation and Committee Co-Chair Steve Harshman (R-Natrona) says the effort was broken into two parts.

“We’re focused on two specific points, reform, and relief,” Harshman says. “A year ago, we expanded the property tax refund program to give relief to 10,000 property owners. That was well-received. This year, we added to that eligibility and should see even greater relief through that program. That was the relief side.

“On the reform side, we know the constitution sets our assessment rate. But, we can exempt the value of your home by a certain percentage. So, we were able to cap the increase of your home at 4%. That just helps with these double-digit increases we’ve seen.”

Due to the legislative session's timing, the bills ushered in two programs that will go into effect immediately. Several changes will take place in time for the 2025 tax year. At present, there is no language in these bills that prohibits citizens from using more than one of these programs in the same tax year.

What Takes Effect in 2024
House Bill 45, sponsored by Buffalo Representative Barry Crago - Single Family Residential Structure Exemption Percentage will exempt more than a 4% increase of your home’s maximum assessed value year-over-year. In short, you will never pay more than 4% more in property taxes than last year unless the mill levy increases. Wyoming taxpayers need to do nothing to take advantage of this new law - your County Assessor will take care of it for you and note the change on the 2024 assessment schedule you receive in the mail. In tax year 2025, the 4% cap will also be applied to the improved associated residential land.

The exemption does not apply if the owner acquired the property during the prior calendar year, or the residential structure is new construction, or has added an addition to an existing structure.

“Undoubtedly Wyoming homeowners need relief from soaring property taxes, and I was pleased House Bill 45 was among a suite of bills that got over the finish line to give homeowners assurances they won’t see double-digit increases in their property taxes this year,” Crago tells AARP Wyoming.

There is a question about how much land will apply to the 4% cap and that will be worked out in the rulemaking process. Right now the 4% cap does not have any age requirement, nor is there a requirement to have been a resident in Wyoming for any number of years before you receive the tax relief. Currently, this bill does not have a sunset.or end.

The bills will come at an expense to the state, school foundation, and local taxing entities. This measure will cost the state’s school foundation an estimated $9 million in 2025 and more than $12 million in 2026 and 2027. Local schools will be out $23 million in 2025 and $32 million in 2026.

“In and post-COVID we had people coming here and paying cash on homes in the state, and that drove up the prices of homes and their value for property taxes,” Harshman says. “Now, we’ve got this cap in place, and I think it's a huge deal. If you look at the previous 20 years before COVID,we had increases year-over-year of 3-4-5%. Lincoln County alone went up 30% in one year.”

House Bill 4 increased the amount of income you can make and still apply for the Property Tax Refund program. Now, you can make up to 145% of your county’s median income and still apply for a refund on your previous year’s property tax.

For most folks, 145% of county median income means a household income of $107,184. However, Laramie ($110,258), Uinta ($111,998), Sweetwater ($116,745), Sublette ($130,558), Lincoln ($134,111), Converse ($115,478), Campbell ($136,199), and Teton Counties ($178,959) do have higher average income levels.

There are other restrictions on this program. Those applying cannot have more than $156,900 in assets per adult household member. This includes investments, bank accounts, and other real estate but excludes a car for each adult household member, your home, and any retirement accounts. You must have paid the 2023 property tax, been a Wyoming resident for five years, and lived in your Wyoming residence for at least nine months during 2023.

If your tax bill exceeds more than 10% of your total reported income, your asset limit does not apply.

If you qualify you are eligible to receive a refund of 75% up to one-half of the median residential property tax amount for the county where the property is located. If your income is above 125% up to 145% of median household income, your refund will be reduced by 35%.

This program requires an application through the Wyoming Department of Revenue (wptrs.wyo.gov) and applications need to be made by the first Monday in June. Applications are also available at local county treasurer's offices.

There is $20 million dedicated to this program for the next two years.

What Takes Effect in 2025
House Bill 3, Known as 65 and 25 and sponsored by the Legislature’s Revenue Committee, will go into effect in 2025. This will cut the cost of property tax in half for any Wyomingite (or their surviving spouse) age 65 and over who has paid Wyoming property taxes on residential property for 25 years or more. You don’t have to have lived in the same house for 25 years, but you do have to live in t home you are claiming the exemption on for eight months that tax year.

This 50% exemption will apply to the residential structure, the residential land, and up to 35 acres associated with the home.

The law requires those who wish to take advantage of this program to submit a claim to their County Assessor by the fourth Monday in May, starting May 2025. The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2025, and is repealed July 1, 2027, so it is only good for two years. Those wishing to take advantage of the law will have to apply. Applications are not yet available.

Wyoming’s Revenue Department estimates this measure will cost the state school foundation $1.8 million in 2026 and $1.9 million in 2027. HB3 will cost the state’s schools around $4 million in 2026 and 2027.

For the past two years, we’ve been talking about around 10% of those people who have lived here their whole lives and are struggling with property tax now,” he says. A lot of other states grant some sort of freeze or relief, and so we put together the 65 and 25 exemption to get 50% of your property tax exempted.”

House Bill 89 doubled the Veterans Property Exemption from $3,000 per veteran to $6,000 per veteran This act will go into effect Jan. 1, 2025 and was sponsored by Senator Ed Cooper, who represents parts of the Big Horn Basin.

Veterans interested in using this program must reside in the residence they are asking for the exemption on for more than six months of the year. Eligible veterans are honorably discharged veterans of World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, or honorably discharged veterans who was awarded the armed services’ expeditionary medal, or other authorized service of campaign medal indicating services for the US in any armed conflict in the foreign country, or surviving spouses of qualifying veterans, certain disabled veterans may also be eligible for exemption.

To apply for the exemption, file a claim with your County Assessor by the fourth Monday in May. Keep in-mind this program is currently in effect for qualifying veterans at the $3,000. The increase to $6,000 happens after Jan. 1, 2025.

This veterans exemption is funded through the state general fund. . An additional 8.2M was appropriated to fund the additional amount of exemption

What Measures Didn’t Make It
A number of proposed bills were introduced, but they won’t become law for one reason or another. These bills would have cut all Wyoming property owners’ taxes in half, eliminated property tax, increased the sales tax, and cranked property values back to 2019.

The bill that made it the closest to passage yet failed to cross the finish line was Senate File 54, exempting 25% of property value from homes with a fair market value of $2 million or less. Those with a home worth more than $2 million will be allowed to take 25% off the first $2 million of their homes. This law was a short-term relief measure, applying to homes starting Jan. 1, 2024, and ending July 1, 2026. This law will not apply to the tax year of 2026 and beyond. This was a Revenue Committee bill that was vetoed by the Governor who felt the measure wasn’t targeted to those who needed property tax relief.

Harshman says that bill is likely to come back before the Revenue Committee this interim, as will an idea he put forward to cut all property tax for those whose home was valued at less than $1 million and instead add two pennies of sales tax. He points out the property tax replacement would require broadening Wyoming’s currently narrow list of services that are taxed.

“We’ve been talking about property taxes for the last 100 years and will be talking about property taxes well into the future,” Harshman says. “This is our turn to have the discussion. We will keep the conversation going and try to get a little better every year.

This story is provided by AARP Wyoming. Visit the AARP Wyoming page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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