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Wyomingites who’s household income does not exceed 125% of their county or the statewide median income (see table) can apply for a refund of up to 75% of their 2022 Property Tax Bill, thanks to the Legislature’s passage and Governor Mark Gordon’s signature on House BIll 99 this winter.
The bill expanded the eligibility requirements for the Property Tax Refund program, which was funded with $3 million for the 22-23 biennium last year for the first time since 2019. In 2022, almost 4,400 taxpayers applied for refunds for 2021 taxes paid , with 3,100 of those applications being funded at a cost of over $1.8 million to the State. Early this session, Governor Gordon suggested $1 million be added to the program’s budget before the Joint Appropriations Committee added another $4 million to the program’s coffers to account for taxpayers that will qualify under new criteria.
“This bill is one important step towards addressing the concerns of those impacted by the combination of rising inflation and increasing property tax bills,” Governor Gordon says in a statement. “I’m grateful that the Legislature saw fit to deliver a bill that provides a measure of targeted relief for those that need it most, especially our senior citizens and those living on fixed incomes.”
According to Department of Revenue Director Brenda Henson, the application deadline for tax year 2022 refunds is June 5 and applications will be available April 1st by calling her office at 307-777-7320, going online to WPTRS.wyo.gov., or from their local county treasurer's office. AARP Wyoming will also be sure to get the word out on its social media, website, and through teletown halls this spring.
Eligibility Requirements For Refunds
The Property Tax Refund program requires taxpayers to complete an application certifying they own their home; have been a Wyoming resident for the past 5 years; provide proof that 2022 property taxes have been paid in full; they had household income in 2022 equal to or less than 125% of the median household income for county in which you reside or the statewide median income, whichever is greater. Other requirements include personal assets that do not exceed $150,000 per adult household member. In other words, if you own other real estate, bank accounts and investments, they cannot have value in excess of $150,000 per adult household member. However, you may exclude the value of your home, a car for each adult household member, and any retirement accounts (IRA’s, 401K plans, cash value of life insurance policies, Medical Savings, etc.). If your total property tax bill exceeds more than 10% of your total household income, then this asset limit would not apply.
The Bill’s Journey
House Bill 99 was a result of work done in the interim by the Joint Revenue Committee where it actually provided more relief by allowing for up to a 90% refund on last year’s taxes. The bill had a quick path through the House of Representatives passing through the House on Third Reading on a stunning 62-0 vote. On the Senate side Baggs Senator Larry Hicks offered an amendment to the bill that moved the bill’s eligible refund on last year’s taxes from 90% to 75%.
“My concern is we have no idea, if we increase this program by that amount, how much more utilization of the program and how much more this will cost the state and the counties,” Hicks told the Senate. “It seems to me, we outta move it (the eligibility levels) up, I would agree with that. I am uncomfortable moving it up 40% for median income and moving up 45% for the maximum allowable refund for previous years taxes without knowing what that is going to cost.”
Mike Gierau (D-Teton) argued that the higher refund was needed to help middle class families, and seniors who are struggling with their rising property taxes at the same time as inflation was leading to other price hikes in the areas of gas and food. He would bring the point home as the Senate voted on the final passage of HB99.
“This is the bill that will help the people that need this most - middle income folks, our teachers, our firefighters, our first responders.These are people that are working every day and struggling at their kitchen table with their issues, their costs right now. Vote aye on the bill.”
The House received the changes the next day and quickly concurred on the bill sending it to Governor Gordon, who signed it soon after.
Other Property Tax Relief Efforts
The Property Tax Refund bill was one of two bills meant to address property tax relief that made it to the Governor’s desk out of the 16 that were proposed during the 2023 Legislative Session. One-by-one, bills were voted down until three remained late in the session. The gravity of that moment was clear in the session’s final week in the Senate.
“One of my top priorities was to give broad property tax relief to the people I represent. Now, we have almost nothing,” says Senator Tim Salazar (R-Fremont). We are sitting on an incredible surplus and we could not deliver property tax relief to the vast majority of the people of this state, the very thing the people in my district wanted.”
Salazar himself brought a bill that would have placed a cap on the percentage of increase taxpayers could see on their property tax bills year-over-year. It was voted down due to concerns that it could be seen as unconstitutional.
That panic to put together more long-lasting property tax relief led to big changes for Senate Joint Resolution 3. Originally titled, “Property Tax Relief for the Elderly and Infirm,” the bill meandered through committee and the Senate. By the start of the session’s final week, it was clear that if a constitutional amendment related to property tax was going to be put on the 2024 ballot, Joint Resolution 3 was the only way to make it happen.
Through the House, there were efforts made to define what elderly and infirm meant, and finally, upon third reading, massive changes were made to the bill, including its title, which now reads, “Property Tax Residential Class.” The changes triggered an election to amend the state constitution to provide for a fourth class of property - residential. This is up from the current three classes of minerals, industrial, and all other. If the vote for the constitutional change passes, it will allow future legislatures to carve out specific property tax rates for homeowners as lawmakers see fit. Expect to be able to vote on this amendment in the 2024 ballot.
Senator Dan Dockstader (R-Lincoln, Teton) brought the original SJ03 and appreciated the work and the gravity of the moment.
“We’re in the final hour, folks, “ Dockstader told the Senate. “At this point, we have an opportunity. Right now, I am focusing on property tax relief for our homeowners. I had one constituent tell me they had a 50% increase in a year and my assessor told me hold on, we are looking at an increase of another 20-30% over what we have seen.
“This is our final opportunity to show the state we are serious about responsible tax policy that addresses the concern of our constituents around the state.”
County number County Name 125% of Median Income
- 05 Albany *$86,400
- 09 Big Horn *$86,400
- 17 Campbell $114,125
- 06 Carbon *$86,400
- 13 Converse $94,613
- 18 Crook *$86,400
- 10 Fremont *$86,400
- 07 Goshen *$86,400
- 15 Hot Springs *$86,400
- 16 Johnson *$86,400
- 02 Laramie *$86,400
- 12 Lincoln $95,163
- 01 Natrona *$86,400
- 14 Niobrara *$86,400
- 11 Park *$86,400
- 08 Platte *$86,400
- 03 Sheridan *$86,400
- 23 Sublette $101,988
- 04 Sweetwater $96,888
- 22 Teton $128,900
- 19 Uinta $92,788
- 20 Washakie *$86,400
- 21 Weston *$86,400
* This is 125% of the 2022 Statewide Median Household Income: $86,400