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Some Flood Victims Paying Taxes On Property That Doesn’t Exist

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DENVER (CBS4) – Hundreds of Coloradans lost their homes to floods or fires this past year but they’re still paying property taxes on property that in some cases doesn’t exist.

There’s now a push at the state Capitol to get help for people who’ve already suffered through an awful lot.

John Casey's home is now on an island (credit: CBS)

John Casey’s home is now on an island (credit: CBS)

The September flood didn’t just take John Casey’s home.

“The cars are gone. We found one a crumpled mess and we haven’t found the other one,” Casey said.

It took everything in the home and the land around it.

“So now the house 100 percent an island,” Casey said.

He can’t get to his house, can’t rebuild it, and yet is still paying for it.

“So you have full mortgage, full insurance on property, which is hysterical. And then you pay rent and property taxes,” Casey said.

Casey owes $5,000 in property taxes on property that no longer exists. One state lawmaker, Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, says that’s not right. He’s carrying a bill that would have the state pay the taxes.

“Originally I was going to write a bill called “if the tax assessor can’t find your home, he can’t tax you,” Singer said.

Singer says counties would bill the state for taxes on any homes destroyed by flood or fire.

“Usually property taxes go to support those local counties, the same ones that were affected by the floods and need to rebuild the county roads,” Singer said.

While hundreds will benefit, many, like Terry Mayes, won’t. The county says her home is only 56 percent destroyed.

“We’ve got, it’s like a $4,700 tax bill on property we can’t live on, can’t do anything with,” Mayes said.

That’s the hard part, according to Singer, who helped Lyons after the flood and still wears the same shoes.

“Every time I slip a little bit on these marble floors it reminds me there are people in dire straits right now,” he said.

The property taxes could cost the state $2 million.

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