April 20, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Landowner’s Potential Future Sale of Lot Irrelevant to Determination of Whether Property Residential

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Hogan v. Board of County Commissioners on Thursday, June 14, 2018.

Property Tax—Residential Property.

The Hogans own three connected and contiguous parcels of land in Summit County (the County). Lot 1 has a home built on it. The Hogans built a deck extending from their home across the boundary line onto Lot 2. Lot 3 is located in a subdivision and has an underground sewer line and an unpaved driveway installed by the original developer of the subdivision, but otherwise remains undeveloped. The Summit County Assessor denied the Hogans’ request to reclassify Lot 3 as residential, determining it to be vacant land for purposes of taxation. The Hogans appealed, and the Board of County Commissioners of Summit County (Board) upheld the Assessor’s classification. The Hogans appealed to the Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA), which upheld the Assessor’s classification.

On appeal, the Hogans asserted that the BAA erred in determining that Lot 3 was not “used as a unit in conjunction with the residential improvements.” The primary factor for determining property classification for property tax purposes is the property’s actual use on the relevant assessment date. Here, the BAA considered the likelihood of the parcel being conveyed separately, whether the parcel’s use was necessary or essential to qualify as integral, and whether the use of the parcel was active as opposed to passive. The BAA misapplied the law by relying on the possible future conveyance of Lot 3 as a separate unit without reference to how that possibility related to the Hogans’ current use of the parcel. The BAA further erred in interpreting the statute to require that the parcel’s use be a necessary or essential part of the residence. Finally, the use of the contiguous parcel need not be “active” as opposed to “passive.” Here, there is no evidence in the record that Lot 3 was used for a nonresidential purpose.

Lastly, the court of appeals rejected the BAA’s and the County’s arguments that the case could be affirmed on different grounds.

The BAA’s order was reversed and the case was remanded.

Summary provided courtesy of Colorado Lawyer.

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