Trio Of Wyoming Property Tax Relief Bills Near Finish Line

Three property tax relief proposals were passed by a Senate committee Thursday, leaving only one more step before they head to the governor’s desk for review.

LW
Leo Wolfson

March 01, 20243 min read

The Wyoming Senate plows through legislation Monday.
The Wyoming Senate plows through legislation Monday. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

The Senate Revenue Committee considered and passed three bills Thursday that aim to provide property tax relief to Wyoming homeowners.

Now all that remains for these three House bills to become law is approval by the Senate and the governor’s signature.

The most notable of the three is House Bill 45, legislation that would put a 3% cap on year-to-year property tax increases on residential structures and land.

The bill was originally proposed and passed through the House with a 5% cap.

State Sen. Bob Ide, R-Casper, brought the amendment lowering the cap from a flat 5% cap to 3%. Ide said the long-term Consumer Price Index, which measures yearly inflation, has been 3% or lower per year, aside from dramatic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Stephan Pappas, R-Cheyenne, voted against the amendment, saying 5% would be a better marker. He still ended up voting for the bill.

Long-Term Homeowners Exemption

Also passed by the committee was House Bill 3, which establishes a 50% tax exemption for long-term primary residence homeowners. People who are age 65 and older and have paid property taxes in the state for 25 years or more can qualify. Also exempted would be associated land up to 35 acres.

Brenda Henson, director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue, said based on U.S. Census data, around 6,500 people would qualify for the exemption.

This bill will automatically expire in 2027.

A similar homestead bill has been proposed by House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale. The age requirements were removed from Sommers’ bill, which exempts up to the first $100,000 of fair market value.

Refund Program Expansion

The third bill passed by Senate Revenue on Thursday is House Bill 4, which would expand the Wyoming Tax Refund Program for people up to 165% of the median income of the state or their county.

Gov. Mark Gordon has already recommended for approval an additional $20 million for the program.

Henson said her department anticipates 30% more applications if the bill passes.

An earlier attempt to add $70,000 to the bill for two temporary employees to help with the additional workload was rejected by the House, but Senate Revenue added it back in.

There were also unanswered questions posed Thursday about much staff the Department of Audit might have to add to randomly review refunds to make sure participants are in compliance with the program.

Birds Of A Flock

Ide expressed some concern about the number of property tax bills still remaining and “layering” that could happen with duplicative bills that do the same things. Henson agreed.

“If we’re confused a little bit, think of the taxpayer,” she said.

Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, said he believes there will likely be some amendments made on the Senate floor to condense some of the bills together.

Henson also said language could be added to the bills that communicate if they participate in one exemption, they become ineligible to participate in a different exemption.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.

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LW

Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter