Skip to main content

Payment in Lieu of Taxes

We get a lot of questions about PILT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes). This is a Federal program that started back in 1976. These are Federal payments to local governments that help offset losses in property taxes due to the existence of nontaxable Federal lands within their boundaries.

61% of counties have federal land within their boundaries. Even though they are not able to collect property tax on federal land, county governments must still provide essential services for their residents and those who visit these public lands each year. The PILT program provides payments to 1,900 counties and other local governments to offset the loss of tax revenues. In 2019 PILT payments totaled $514.7 million. The formula used to compute the payments is contained in the PILT Act and is based on population, revenue-sharing payments, and the amount of Federal land within an affected county.

In 2019 counties in Colorado received $39,908,985 for 23,697,989 acres of federal land. Fremont County has 455,300 acres of federal land, the payment for 2019 was just under $1.2 million. This money is used to supplement the budgets of the Road and Bridge Department, Sheriff Department and help the county provide essential services to our residents and those who visit these public lands.

Last week I was in Washington DC with Commissioners from 14 other Western States meeting with members of congress and their staff. We were there with NACo (National Association of Counties), founded in 1935. This association unites America’s 3069 county governments. NACo gives county officials a collective voice on national policy. While in DC we were there advocating for PILT to be funded long term or permanently. As we do our budgets for the next year we are uncertain if PILT will be funded. We encourage Congress to work on bi-partisan, sustainable and permanent PILT funding legislation. Counties in the Western States know the impacts of not receiving property tax on the federal property and these PILT payment help to lesson the worry of a tight budget. Although PILT touches 49 states many counties in Eastern States have little to no federal land so it is not important to those congressional representatives, therefore it is important for us to make our voices be heard.

One of the most effective points I can make as a County Commissioner is to show how state and federal policies affect local management and services. Standing up for the people of Fremont County and making sure our county has a voice.


Dwayne McFall

Fremont County Commissioner District 3