Douglas County reverses course on new property tax assessment for short-term rentals

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Airbnb listings are shown in this generic Adobe Stock photo.

Douglas County announced on Friday that it’s putting a hold on plans to change the property tax assessment category for short-term rentals from residential to commercial, which would have more than doubled such homeowners’ tax bills.

As the Journal-World has reported, the Douglas County Appraiser’s office in February sent a letter to nearly 200 homeowners who rent their homes through Airbnb, Vrbo or other similar sites notifying them that their properties would be taxed at commercial rates — 25% of their fair market values — moving forward. Residential properties, meanwhile, are taxed at 11.5%.

In a news release Friday, the county said the appraiser’s office has received feedback from short-term rental property owners in the past two weeks that “revealed new information and nuances regarding short-term rental use that needs to be researched.”

“Concerns of uniformity and appropriate classification for a variety of home-based businesses have been raised,” Douglas County Appraiser Brad Eldridge said in the release. “It is difficult to have a one-size-fits-all approach to all the variations of such uses.”

While the change is on hold, the county plans to study the issue more and seek guidance and clarity from the state to ensure equity between short-term rentals and hotel property assessments. The owners mailed notices in February will receive an amended notice next week that reflects their assessment classification from the previous year.

Property owners can still appeal their property value by filling out a request form on the back of the notice and submitting it to the appraiser’s office by 5 p.m. Friday, March 29. The form can be mailed or dropped off at the office in the basement of the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., or emailed to Informal interviews will be scheduled for appealing property owners between March 18 and May 3.


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