The outcome of the Colorado bill will have a big impact on taxes owners ultimately pay.
Colorado’s legislative committee on finance and oversight is holding a public hearing on Tuesday to discuss a proposed bill that will impact short-term rentals in the state.
If passed, starting January 1, 2026, short-term rental units will be classified as either a residential real property or a lodging property based on its use the previous year. How a unit is classified would have a big impact on taxes owners ultimately pay.
Here’s how it would work:
- Residential real property: If during the previous property tax year, the total number of days that a short-term rental unit was leased for short-term stays was less than or equal to 90 days, then the short-term rental unit is classified as residential real property.
- Lodging property: If, during the previous property tax year, the total number of days that a short-term rental unit was leased for short-term stays was greater than 90 days, then the short-term rental unit is classified as lodging property.
- The distinction matters: The Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers, which represents property owners, said that the current property tax assessment rate for residential is 6.765% after a $15,000 deduction The current lodging tax assessment proposal rate is 27.9% after a $30,000 deduction — a substantial increase.
The bill also defines buildings primarily used for short-term stays as hotels or motels, with exceptions for bed and breakfasts.
Additionally, a pilot program is to be created to track short-term rental units using a statewide database and uniform reporting system.
Property Owners, Managers Reunite
Summit County, home to popular ski towns including Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, is packed with short-term rentals and is considered a formidable market in the country, not just the state of Colorado.
By some estimates, there are over 3900 short-term rentals in the county, netting an annual revenue of over $122,448. In peak season, average daily rates can go as high as $500.
In its call to action asking property owners to speak out against the bill, the Summit Alliance of Vacation Rentals Managers wrote in its email to members this week:
“On an average real estate transaction of $1.4 million in Summit County, this tax proposal means the homeowner would be paying over $390,000 in property taxes annually – In addition to any mill levies. Under this scenario, individual homeowners who see approximately 30% occupancy are being treated the same as hotels – which see on average 80% or more occupancy throughout the year.”
Mill levy is the tax rate imposed on the assessed property value.
During the past few years, several property manager alliances have cropped up, including: The Summit Alliance of Vacation Rental Managers, Summit County Resort Homes Inc, and Colorado Property Owners for Property Rights.
In August this year, a group of 101 homeowners in Summit County, Colorado, filed a lawsuit to challenge new regulations on short-term rental homes, which they claim are overly restrictive and misguided. These homeowners argue that the county’s regulations are based on fabricated justifications, such as the belief that short-term rentals are depriving the county of housing for its workforce.
The lawsuit outlined situations where homeowners have been forced to rent to locals or face financial difficulties due to the new regulations. The homeowners assert that the regulations are negatively impacting the region’s tourism-based economy.
Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue defended the county’s regulations, stating that they were developed through a comprehensive and collaborative process involving input from various stakeholders.