Others must wait

By Sarah Elmquist Squires

State leaders knew this property tax season was going to hurt, again, and during the 2023 legislative session lobbed dozens of bills at the issue.
But several hurdles — a central one rooted in Wyoming’s Constitution — got in the way, and as homeowners across the state tear open those statements in the coming days, there’s one expanded program that might help. Here’s what you need to know about it.

Expanded refund program
State legislators increased eligibility on an existing program that allows homeowners to seek a refund, which would apply to up to one half of the median residential property tax level, or 75% of their bill, whichever is less. However, this only applies to some homeowners. 
First, you must have been a Wyoming resident for at least five years, and the tax break applies only to your primary residence. You can’t have more than $150,000 in total assets per adult household member. And there are income requirements that vary by county. 
Your household income must be equal or less than 125% of the median household income in your county. In Fremont County, that’s $86,400. (To find the stats for other Wyoming counties, and the details on the statewide median income threshold, click on “2022 Property Tax Refund Program Brochure” at https://revenue.wyo.gov/divisions/administrative-services/property-tax-refund-program.)
But wait. There’s more. Here are a few of the other requirements, according to the Wyoming Department of Revenue: 

Veterans’ program
Wyoming veterans or their surviving spouse also have a property tax relief program that could help. Those applications are due by the fourth Monday in May, and you should contact the county assessor (307-332-1188) to apply.

More property tax reform in sight
One of the obstacles that limited the way legislators could approach the issue of property tax reform this session is a constitutional one. Currently, property must be assessed at full value, uniformly, in three classes: minerals and mine gross production, industrial, and “other” — effectively lumping agricultural, commercial, and residential together. 
Amending the state’s constitution isn’t something that can happen overnight, but this session, lawmakers paved the way for the change. In 2024, voters will be asked to approve a constitutional amendment that would pull residential property out of that umbrella category and into its own, which would allow state leaders to tailor homeowner property tax relief without including the same breaks for commercial and agricultural tracts.
Earlier this month, Governor Mark Gordon lauded the work of the legislature this session, which included expanding eligibility requirements for the relief program described above. “We recognize the importance of keeping property taxes low so families can remain in their homes and communities,” he explained in a release. “Target relief ensures that those who need assistance the most get it without eroding tax revenue from local governments. My hat’s off to the legislature for recognizing the importance of this program.”
Wyoming Department of Revenue Director Brenda Henson also weighed in. “Based on the expanded criteria adopted by the legislature, we anticipate being able to provide property tax relief to nearly double the number of homeowners assisted last year.”