Karen L. Kelly, Trustee, Petitioner-Appellant,
Board of County Commissioners of Summit County, Colorado, Respondent-Appellee, and Board of Assessment Appeals, Appellee.
Colorado Board of Assessment Appeals Case No. 68821.
Carlock & Applewhite, F. Brittin Clayton III, Denver,
Colorado, for Petitioner-Appellant.
Jeffrey L. Huntley, County Attorney, Franklin Celico,
Assistant County Attorney, Breckenridge, Colorado, for
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Emmy A. Langey,
Assistant Solicitor General, Krista Maher, Assistant Attorney
General, Denver, Colorado, for Appellee.
Welling and Casebolt[*] , JJ., concur.
Opinion Modified On the Court's Own Motion
[¶1] This property tax case involves two
adjacent parcels of land in Summit County, Colorado —
one classified as residential and one as vacant — with
a separate trust holding record title to each parcel. Karen
L. Kelly (Ms. Kelly), Trustee of the separate trusts each
holding record title to one parcel, sought reclassification
of the vacant parcel (subject parcel) for property tax
purposes. The Board of Assessment Appeals (BAA) denied her
request, concluding that the two differently titled parcels
were not under " common ownership" within the
meaning of section 39-1-102(14.4)(a), C.R.S. 2017, which
defines " residential land" for purposes of the
property tax statute.
[¶2] Ms. Kelly appeals the BAA's denial
of her reclassification request. Because we conclude that Ms.
Kelly presented sufficient evidence establishing common
ownership of both parcels, we reverse the BAA's order and
remand with directions for the BAA to reclassify the subject
parcel as residential land for tax years 2014 and 2015.
[¶3] In the 1990s, Ms. Kelly purchased two
adjacent parcels of land in Summit County. She built a home
on one parcel (residential parcel) and left the subject
[¶4] Sometime after she purchased the two
parcels, Ms. Kelly placed them in trust. In particular, on
counsel's advice, she put the residential parcel in the
Karen L. Kelly 2011 Irrevocable Trust, a qualified personal
residence trust. And she put the subject parcel in the Karen
L. Kelly 1990 Declaration of Trust, a revocable family trust.
Ms. Kelly was the settlor, trustee, and beneficiary of both
[¶5] For tax purposes, the Summit County
Assessor classified the residential parcel as residential
land. But the Assessor classified the subject parcel as
vacant land, which is taxed at a higher rate.
[¶6] In 2016, Ms. Kelly appealed the subject
parcel's classification to the Summit County Board of
County Commissioners (County). She requested that the subject
parcel be reclassified as residential land under section
39-1-102(14.4)(a) and sought a tax abatement for the tax
years 2014 and 2015. The County denied the petition.
[¶7] Ms. Kelly then appealed the
County's decision to the BAA, again requesting to have
the subject parcel reclassified as residential land and
seeking the associated tax abatement. At the evidentiary
hearing, Ms. Kelly and the County presented evidence on the
ownership of the parcels.
[¶8] After the hearing, the BAA affirmed the
County's classification of the subject parcel as
vacant land, determining that the subject parcel and
residential parcel were owned by two separate trusts and
" [e]ach trust [was] a separate and distinct legal
entity." It thus concluded that the parcels were not
commonly owned and therefore the subject parcel did not