Sustainable Severance & Property Tax Policies
The bill modifies the community solar garden property tax exemption, which exempts the percentage of alternating current electricity capacity of a community solar garden that is attributed to subscribers who are tax exempt, by:
- Extending the exemption for 5 more property tax years ( section 1 of the bill); and
- Expanding the exemption to apply to a community solar garden that is a solar energy facility, which is assessed statewide ( section 2 ).
For the period that the exemption is extended, the state will reimburse local governments for the lost property tax revenues that result from the newly expanded credit. These payments will be made from the sustainable energy tax policy fund, which consists of the increased revenue as a result of changes to the coal tax made in sections 4 and 5 , and the general fund if there is insufficient money in the fund.
In years when the state is required to refund excess state revenues under section 20 of article X of the state constitution (TABOR), the reimbursements to the counties are a TABOR refund mechanism. This refund mechanism only applies after the refunds made to counties for the reimbursements for the senior homestead exemption ( sections 1 and 6 ).
Locally assessed solar energy facilities are valued by assessors using valuation procedures developed by the property tax administrator (administrator). Currently, the administrator is required to utilize a cost approach to valuation for all renewable energy facilities. This valuation currently involves a "tax factor" based on a 20-year period. Section 2 extends this period by 10 years and specifies that after the 30 years, a tax factor is not applied and the taxable value shall not exceed the depreciated value floor calculated using the cost basis method. Under section 3 , the administrator will be required to utilize the income approach used for solar energy facilities for a renewable energy facility that would qualify as a solar energy facility if it generated more energy, so that all similar facilities will be valued in the same manner.
For purposes of the severance tax on coal, beginning July 1, 2021, section 4 eliminates the quarterly exemption on the first 300,000 tons of coal and the credit for coal produced from underground mines and for the production of lignitic coal. Prior to June 30, 2026, the additional severance tax that results from these changes will be credited to the sustainable energy policy fund, and thereafter it is allocated like other severance tax revenue (section 5).
(Note: This summary applies to this bill as introduced.)