Amendment E would extend a property tax break to Gold Star spouses, who are the survivors of U.S. service members who died in the line of duty or of veterans who died as a result of a service-related injury or disease.
Colorado’s homestead exemption, which reduces the amount of property tax a homeowner owes, currently is available to people 65 years and older who have lived in their home for 10 years or longer. It is also available to veterans with a service-related permanent disability.
Last year, more than 266,000 older Coloradans and over 9,000 veterans claimed homestead exemptions.
Amendment E would simply extend the benefit to Gold Star spouses, too.
Here’s what you need to know about Amendment E:
What it would do
Amendment E was referred to the ballot this year by the legislature through the unanimous passage of House Resolution 1003.
The homestead exemption is in the state constitution. It exempts 50% of the first $200,000 of a home’s value from taxation. The state legislature can adjust the $200,000 amount to either increase or decrease the homestead exemption.
Around 490 Gold Star spouses who do not otherwise qualify for the exemption would be eligible under the amendment, the legislature’s Legislative Council estimates. They would save on average between $480 to $630 each year under the expanded exemption.
The amendment would increase state spending by approximately $288,000 in fiscal year 2023-24 — which begins on July 1, 2023 — to cover reimbursements under the expanded benefit.
The arguments for
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Proponents say the amendment would help Gold Star families meet their financial needs, which can be particularly difficult after losing a spouse.
State Rep. Mark Baisley, R-Woodland Park, who co-sponsored the resolution that put Amendment E on the ballot, said the measure represents an important opportunity to help military families throughout the state.
“This is something that we can do as a thank you to those Gold Star spouses who surrendered so much for the rest of us, for our freedoms, and to make life a little bit more comfortable for them in their retirement years when they don’t have their partner anymore to share in in the cost of living for their homes,” Baisley said.
The arguments against
There is no organized opposition to the amendment. Some critics have said the amendment only provides support for spouses who have the financial capacity to own homes.
The homestead exemption for permanently disabled veterans is meant to financially assist them with the employment and income barriers they may face as a result of their disability. Some say the spouses may not face the same employment challenges, according to the state ballot information booklet.
One big thing you should know
When a permanently disabled veteran dies, their spouse can keep the tax break under current homestead exemption law. However, the same does not apply to the spouse of an individual killed while serving in the military. This amendment would include the latter situation to qualify for the exemption.
Also, passing a constitutional amendment requires 55% of voters’ support to pass.
The players and the money
There is no organized support for or opposition to the amendment, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.