Bill Offers Tax Relief for Disaster Victims

DENVER, Colo. -- Colorado has experienced more than its share of natural disasters in recent times. And such disasters can fall particularly hard on farmers and other agricultural operators, due to a quirk in the tax code that re-categorizes damaged parcels as non-agricultural land, subject to higher tax rates. 

That the victims of natural calamities often also get handed a higher tax bill just adds insult to the injuries they suffer. 

Now a bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Sen. Ellen Roberts (R-Durango), wants to stop pouring salt in the wounds by offering tax help to farmers and other agriculture operations struck by misfortune. 

HB-1008, which today won unanimous approval by the Senate Local Government Committee, assists natural disaster victims by allowing damaged agricultural parcels to continue to be taxed as agricultural in the year of disaster and for four years after. Backers of the bill believe this will speed recovery and reduce red tape for disaster victims. 

“Getting handed a higher tax bill for land that Mother Nature made unusable is a double whammy Colorado farmers shouldn’t have to face, if they don’t have to,” said Roberts. “Giving farmers a little post-disaster tax relief won’t just lessen their pain, but it will speed their recovery by freeing-up rebuilding funds that otherwise would go to the tax man.” 

The bill next will be heard by the full Senate. If passed, it will move to the House of Representatives for action. 

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