As property taxes rise, county officials push refund options

Many longtime locals living on fixed incomes may qualify to receive a refund of up to 50% of their annual property tax bill.
The median home sale price in Teton County topped $4 million in the first quarter of 2022. Skyrocketing property values have led to rising taxes for property-owning residents. (Ken Schulze/Shutterstock)

Many Jackson Hole residents saw a major increase in their property tax bill this year as real estate values continue to rise in the Tetons. The average hike is around 40%, but Teton County Treasurer Katie Smits said she’s seen constituents with even higher increases, depending on their location. 

“I talk to people on the phone. Their property taxes went up 50%. That’s 20% of their annual income because they’re on a fixed income,” she said. “I mean, that really pulls at your heartstrings.” 

Smits said she’s been getting lots of angry e-mails and phone calls about the situation, and she’s not the only state official experiencing harassment. At least one other Wyoming assessor has gotten multiple death threats, according to recent testimony at an interim State Revenue Committee meeting. 

“People do get mad, and [say], ‘How could you do this? How could you live with yourself? How could you sleep at night?’ Well, you know, we’re all trying to do the best we can,” Smits said. “I have a job and this is my job. Yes, I did sign up for it. I try to do the best I can to explain everything.” 

This year, Smits is also explaining refund options to residents. Wyoming has set aside a pot of money to return tax revenues to some qualifying residents for the first time since 2019. And Smits said plenty of longtime locals qualify for reimbursements of up to 50% of their property tax bill as long as they meet certain criteria. 

“You have to own your home here in Teton County. You have to be a resident of Wyoming for at least the past five years,” Smits said. “And then lastly, you need to make sure that you paid your property taxes on time.” 

Applicants also can’t have a yearly income of more than $73,658, or 75% of the median income in Teton County, and there are a few other asset limits. Smits said 91 people got an average of $1,500 refunded back in 2019, but she expects a lot more interest in the program this year.

“Usually we don’t hear anything within the first couple of weeks, but yes, we have a stack of applications,” she said. 

June 6 is the final day to send in a refund request, and more information is available through the Teton County Treasurer’s office. In the meantime, legislators are looking into how to offset rising property taxes as the issue reaches all corners of Wyoming, especially because most of the money raised through home values goes to state coffers like the education system.

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About Will Walkey

Will is KHOL's first full-time reporter and producer. Originally from Tacoma, Washington, he recently graduated from Columbia University with a Master's Degree in journalism. He likes to read and write about housing, local politics, and history, and spends most of his free time fishing or biking. He's excited to be living in Wyoming, and looks forward to honing in on his unique radio voice by highlighting the locals that make Jackson special. Contact Will with tips at will@jhcr.org, and follow him on Twitter at @WillWalkey.

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