Guest Opinion (SDN): The Lodging Property Tax Bill SB24-033

Guest Opinion (SDN): The Lodging Property Tax Bill SB24-033
February 12, 2024

Guest Opinion: The lodging property tax bill would harm Summit County businesses and jobs

Opinion OPINION | Feb 12, 2024

Julie Koster
Guest opinion

Summit County is a world-class resort community. Our economy is tourist based, and tourism is absolutely essential to the continued vitality of our community. Unlike other resort communities, we do not have a sufficient number of hotels to support our resorts and towns. As a result, the county has for many decades provided lodging for visitors via vacation rentals.

Due to our proximity to the Front Range and years of deliberate marketing efforts to create a sustainable year-round economy, we account for nearly half of all short-term rentals in the State of Colorado. Summit County stands to lose the most from this bill.

The Lodging Property Tax Treatment Bill creates a new lodging category that raises property tax from 6.765% to 27.9% for homeowners renting 90-plus nights a year. A recent study by the Colorado Lodging and Resort Alliance shows that if this bill is successful, the result will be that the majority of vacation rentals will no longer rent for 90-plus nights or will stop renting altogether to avoid paying an over 400% increase in property taxes.

The 90-night threshold will force vacation rental homeowners to rent when the demand is at its peak, from Christmas through spring break. Outside of winter, the rest of the year will go dark. Summer would be eerily quiet, locals will be fighting to hang on with seasonal work.

This bill would harm all small businesses in our community, not just the lodging industry. Restaurants, retailers, and other service industries will be severely impacted when there will be drastically fewer beds for overnight visitors from April to December. The impact extends to every resident who depends on sales tax dollars to fund government services. Precious funding for preschools, fire departments, police departments, roads, social and mental health services that rely on taxes generated by the lodging industry will be significantly reduced.

So, what is the motivation behind this bill?

First, a misguided attempt at “fairness.” Front Range legislators believe that residential properties that compete with hotels and bed and breakfasts should be taxed the same. But this bill taxes Colorado homeowners at a higher appraisal rate than national hotel chains. How is that fair? Our rental homes are not hotels, and they shouldn’t be compared to them.

If generating income from a private home makes it a commercial activity, then what about long-term rental properties? And home-based business operators? Every homeowner profits some way from home ownership. Why are vacation rental homeowners being targeted?

Second, there is a flawed understanding of “stress on infrastructure.” The reality is, our infrastructure — water, sewer, trash, electricity, gas, and more — is paid for by homeowners and tourists.

Vacation rental homes are typically vacant half of the year. Full time residences are occupied 365 days per year. Vacation rental homes simply use less infrastructure services than full-time residences. When new construction permits are approved, it is assumed for full occupancy. If our current infrastructure cannot handle what has been approved to build, then that is an actual infrastructure problem — not an imagined vacation-rental-generated one.

If this bill passes, imagine the flood of day trippers driving into our county, taking advantage of its beauty without spending a dime. Day trippers with packed coolers on congested roads and in parking lots — who will then simply drive back home. Overnight guests who become day trippers will add more congestion to town streets and parking lots, making gridlock more common and more intense. It has been proven that every $1 spent on lodging translates to $3 spent in the local community. All of that will be gone.

Last, this proposed tax will not create more affordable housing. In fact, housing will not be an issue when there are frighteningly few jobs available from April to December.

This bill, as written, would trigger a veritable economic disaster. An independent economic study commissioned by the Colorado Lodging and Resort Alliance estimates that $1.2 to $1.4 billion dollars in revenue will be lost along with thousands of jobs if the bill passes. Today, over 7,000 jobs across Summit County rely on short-term rentals. Many of those will become part-time, seasonal or be eliminated.

Every voice in Summit County must stand united against the Lodging Property Tax Treatment bill. Our future and livelihoods depend on it. Any form of commercial taxing on vacation rental properties will irreparably harm our local economy.

Please write to our legislators to kill the Lodging Property Tax Treatment Bill. Learn more at