While Republicans were busy this week defending their new tax plan and the impact it will have on the middle class, Pueblo County is offering seniors and the disabled a deal in paying off their property tax.
The county is promoting a program that allows those over 60 years old or who are disabled to volunteer in exchange for money that can go toward their property taxes. The program started nearly two decades ago and lets 250 people who qualify volunteer at 44 different programs across the county.
County officials say the program is a good resource for seniors and the disabled in Pueblo, not necessarily because there is a high rate of that population not paying property taxes.
Pueblo County Public Information Officer Paris Carmichael told Colorado Politics less than 1 percent of homeowners don’t pay their property taxes. But for those who qualify, there are a plethora of volunteer opportunities, from thrift stores to helping other seniors and hospice care.
And while the program may seem unique, a few other places across the state and nation have adopted something similar.
In Massachusetts, seniors can get up to $1,000 off their property taxes in exchange for volunteer hours. And in Cherry Creek Schools in the Denver area, there’s also a program. Seniors may earn up to $457.05 based on 55 maximum allowed paid volunteer hours once every 12 months, and one payment per property, according to the district.
Washington D.C. think tank The Tax Foundation took a look at a program similar to Pueblo’s in 2009 and said it wasn’t sound tax policy because it’s still considered taxable income.
“We favor broader bases and lower rates, meaning that when possible all income should be taxable, even income earned by senior citizens, so that the tax rate can be as low as possible to minimize economic distortions,” the foundation said.