Rep. Mike Yin-D. Courtesy photo.

JACKSON, Wyo. —Wyoming Rep. Mike Yin, House District 16, announced yesterday he will introduce a bill that would allow counties to charge a fee on homes unoccupied for more than six months a year.

The idea, Yin says, is to incentivize second homeowners to put their properties to use. If passed, second homeowners could choose to rent out their unoccupied homes to avoid the fee. Otherwise, the fee would help fund the Wyoming Property Tax Refund Program, which helps people with fixed incomes pay increasing property taxes. The program doesn’t currently have a designated funding source except for occasional general fund revenue, which Yin says is “not a large amount.”

Second homeowners are part of the problem, Yin says. They should be part of the solution.

“These homes are being purchased with the intention to not be a full-time residence,” Yin says. That decreases the number of livable units available to full-time residents. It also increases property taxes for the whole neighborhood.

“The negative costs are borne by the neighbors around them. The houses create really high purchase prices, which increase property taxes.”

The bill would not impose additional taxes on second homeowners. Under the Wyoming constitution, legislators cannot tax different types of properties differently. Instead, it’s a mitigation fee. Wyoming imposes a mitigation fee on electric vehicles because to mitigate for the loss of fuel tax revenue. This is a similar principle, Yin says, to “mitigate issues borne by second homeowners.”

The draft bill does not specify how the fee will be administered or how much it will be. Yin wants to leave the fee structure up to local governments.

“I just want to give them the option and the tools,” Yin says.

Yin will present the draft bill in front of the Revenue Committee and Corporations Committee this week and next.

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Buckrail @ Shannon

Shannon is a Wyoming-raised writer and reporter. She just completed a master's in journalism from Boston University. Jackson shaped her into an outdoorswoman, but a love for language and the human condition compels her to write. She believes there's no story too small to tell nor adventure too small to take.