Mar 18

New Real Estate Transfer Taxes Are Not Allowed

New Real Estate Transfer Taxes Are Not Allowed

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights includes provisions beyond the required citizen vote on new or higher taxes.

Real estate purchases have much higher values than purchases of consumables.  Purchasers of consumables such as household goods and of durable goods such as appliances and cars must pay a sales tax.  Governments have looked hungrily at real estate purchases as possible sources of taxation, salivating over taking a portion of the value each time there is a sale.

That’s a bad idea.

Our Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is comprehensive enough to prevent any government (“district”) from even proposing to add this type of tax.  Because TABOR is written into the state constitution, any government would first have to initiate a statewide vote to overturn this provision before a new tax scheme could even be considered.

There are just a few existing real estate transfer taxes, which were “grandfathered in” upon the 1992 passage of TABOR.  There is a trivially small (.0001) statewide tax, mislabeled a “document fee,” for each sale.  It was initially imposed just to provide an indication of sale price.  There are 12 municipalities that have long-standing transfer taxes, all in the mountains and on the Western Slope.  In addition to a prohibition of new transfer taxes, no rate increase is allowed for any existing transfer tax.  For more detailed information, follow this link: http://thetaborfoundation.org/colorado-real-estate-transfer-taxes/

Colorado constitution (Article X, Section 20), paragraph 8(a) states:  “New or increased transfer tax rates on real property are prohibited.”

The provision was included within the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as an additional protection for citizens.  A specific real estate sale might go forward in Colorado, when it otherwise might not quite reach the buyer’s threshold with the additional burden of an onerous transfer tax.

New Real Estate Transfer Taxes Are Not Allowed

Mar 18

Colorado Real Estate Transfer Taxes

Colorado real estate transfer taxes

  1. State Documentary “Fee” (real estate transfer tax)

Upon the transfer (conveyance) of real property, a state statute gives all Colorado counties the power to collect a real estate transfer tax.  The authorization is found in Colorado Revised Statute 39-13-101 et seq.

Each county assessor is responsible for determining the actual value of any property.  The purpose of this real estate transfer tax is stated in the controlling statute’s legislative declaration as helping to establish what that market value is.  To do so, the assessor’s office needs to maintain a continuing record of the total price paid by purchasers.

The tax is calculated at one penny for every $100 of the purchase price (.01 percent[1]).  As an example, a house selling for $450,000 would see imposed a transfer tax of $45.  Values of real estate under $500 are excluded.

(An additional charge to cover the cost of processing the recorded document may be added to the tax so that the total “doc fee” shown on a closing form is likely higher than the tax.)

The tax is imposed upon transfer of all residential, commercial or other real property.  There are a few exceptions, the primary one being that no government (federal, state or local) must pay the tax, although it must show the purchase price on the recoded document.  Another important exception is the transfer of inherited property.

The law directs the tax be collected when the real estate transfer is to be recorded at the county’s clerk & recorder’s office.  The tax is accepted by the clerk’s office and deposited by the county treasurer to be used as general fund revenue for the county.

The law creating this tax was passed in 1963.  It has not been modified since.

 

  1. Local transfer taxes

There are 12 different towns in the mountains / Western Slope that impose real estate transfer taxes.  These were extant at the passage of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 1992 and so were “grandfathered in.”  The towns with the tax are shown in the accompanying table.

The constitutional provision created a statewide prohibition on the creation of new transfer taxes or the increase of existing transfer taxes

Towns with authority to impose a real estate transfer tax

 

Town Percentage of purchase price
Aspen 1.5  **
Avon 2.0
Breckenridge 1.0
Crested Butte 3.0
Frisco 1.0
Gypsum 1.0
Minturn 1.0
Ophir 4.0
Snowmass Village 1.0
Telluride 3.0
Vail 1.0
Winter Park 1.0

 

There was no state law governing the adoption of local transfer taxes.  All towns and cities on the list are home rule municipalities and they adopted their real estate transfer taxes pursuant to their constitutional authority under Article XX to do so as a matter of local concern.  This explains why only municipalities, not counties, have legacy transfer taxes that predate the prohibition created in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

** Actually, two separate taxes totaling 1.5%: Wheeler Opera House RETT 0.5%; Housing RETT 1.0%, and the first $100K is deducted prior to applying the HRETT

This synopsis was written by Penn R. Pfiffner in February 2021.  The author wishes to recognize the assistance of the Colorado Municipal League, which supplied the rates in the table and added language about home rule.

[1] See 39-13-102 paragraph 2(b)

Mar 16

Denver, Colorado Sales Taxes Increased Without Voter Consent

Denver’s 2021 budget reveals that the city expects to collect $14 million in new sales tax revenues this year by taking advantage of a 2018 United States Supreme Court ruling for the first time. The State of Colorado began collecting new sales tax revenues under the same scheme in 2019.

These tax increases have come without voter consent, raising the question of whether sales tax rates should be lowered to offset the increases.

Key Takeaways

  • A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allows states and local governments to mandate that out-of-state retailers collect sales taxes from residents when selling online.
  • Denver and the State of Colorado have both created a substantial tax windfalls for themselves after promulgating new tax rules to take advantage of the ruling.
  • The state brought in $80 million in new sales tax revenue in FY 2019-20 as a result of the new rules. Denver projects a $14 million increase in sales tax revenue this year as a result of its changes.
  • Both Denver and the state skirted TABOR. The burden of the new taxes falls on residents, but the changes did not appear on the ballot for voter approval.
  • The new rules effected a tax revenue increase by expanding the sales tax base. Denver should consider offsetting this base increase by decreasing its sales tax rate.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Mar 12

Colorado’s Competitiveness: The Challenge of Economic Recovery Under More than $1.8 Billion in New Regulations, Taxes and Fees

Prior to 2020 and the global economic and cultural upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado stood out for having strong economic growth and offering a desirable lifestyle. Coloradans had created the #1 state economy and enjoyed competitive advantages in attracting business growth and an educated workforce. In fact, in late 2019, US News World Report ranked Colorado’s business climate as one of the best in the nation.

However, after two periods of negative economic shocks in 2020, in both late spring and through the holidays, the state of business in Colorado remains under duress.

  • There were 150,000 fewer jobs in Colorado in December 2020 relative to the start of the years, representing a 5.4% cut.[i] While the statewide reduction is significant, it masks the disproportionate impacts across industries, as the leisure and hospitality industry was down 90,900 jobs by end of 2020, whereas professional and business services was up 7,100 jobs.[ii]
  • State taxable sales were down $8.9B, or -1.35%, in 2020 relative to 2019.[iii] Small business suffered, especially. As of February 10th, small business revenue was down 29.5% from January 2020 levels.[iv]
  • Colorado’s unemployment rate increased by the 2nd-most among all states, from 2.5% to 8.5%. The Colorado state unemployment ranking went from near first (4th) to almost last (48th).[v]

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Mar 12

Get ready, America, Democrats think tax hikes are the answer to everything: Grover Norquist

Every issue is an excuse to expand the size and scope of government and implement trillions in new taxes


 

If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

For Democrats today, the solution for every new issue is another tax increase. Name the “problem” and their “solution” is a higher tax on American families and businesses.

Every issue is an excuse to expand the size and scope of government and implement trillions in new taxes.

Even in the recent $1.9 trillion COVID “relief” spending spree legislation, Democrats put in a proviso that they believe will stop any tax reduction by Republican-led state governments for the next four years: If a state cuts taxes the Biden administration will threaten to sue to get their “bailout money” back.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Mar 05

Fee-funded water enterprise will now go to voters if passed by legislature

 

A new enterprise fund proposed by Republican Sen. Don Coram will go to the voters if it makes it way out of the state legislature.

The bill, that would provide financing to water providers for myriad things, lacked support by some who would otherwise embrace an idea for more revenue to fund water storage in Colorado.

The biggest issue with Senate Bill 21-034, brought by the southwestern Colorado senator, was it proposes a new enterprise fund, funded by a new fee on water that detractors saw as being in conflict with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) if it did not go to the public for a vote.

To continue reading the rest of this story, please click (HERE):

Feb 27

New fee-funded water enterprise bill raises eyebrows; detractors see a disregard for voter consent

DENVER — A bill being sponsored by Republican Sen. Don Coram that would provide financing to water providers for myriad things, lacks support by some who would otherwise support an idea for more revenue to fund water storage in Colorado.

The biggest issue with Senate Bill 21-034, brought by the southwestern Colorado senator, is it proposes a new enterprise fund, funded by a new fee that detractors see as being in conflict with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

TABOR is amendment to the Colorado Constitution that, among other things, requires voter approval for new or increased taxes, as well as limiting growth of a portion of the state’s budget to a formula of population growth plus inflation.

“We haven’t had a chance to look at the bill yet, so our board hasn’t taken a formal position yet,” said Marty Neilson of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, whose primary goal is to support and protect TABOR. “But just hearing the first sentence, I can tell you it is not something we will support.”

That first sentence in the summary reads: “Concerning the creation of an enterprise that is exempt from the requirements of section 20 of article X of the state constitution to administer a fee-based water resources financing program.”

Section 20 article X is the guiding structure behind TABOR. Continue reading

Feb 23

Americans for Prosperity: Poll finds little support for paying more for gas

The legislature could pass a fee of some sort, but lawmakers would have to refer a tax hike to the ballot, because of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
 
#TABOR
#ItsYourMoneyNotTheirs
#ThankGodForTABOR
#VoteOnTaxesAndFees
#TABOROn
 
Click (HERE) to read this story about TABOR
Feb 15

TABOR And Taxes Have A Big Impact On Seniors In Colorado.

TABOR is a friend to Colorado seniors

TABOR and taxes have a big impact on seniors in Colorado. TABOR is one of the best friends to seniors in Colorado because it limits the growth of government spending (unless approved by Colorado voters) which, in turn, reduces the need for more taxation. In addition, there are other laws that benefit Colorado taxpayers 55 and older who get a $20,000 retirement income exclusion from state taxes, and the exclusion reaches $24,000 when they reach 65. Seniors may qualify for this exemption of up to 50% of the first $200,000 of property value if they’ve lived in the same house for 10 years. In the November 2000 election, Colorado voters passed a Property Tax Exemption for seniors, known as Referendum A.  It is called the Homestead Exemption Act.

Conversely, a big downside for retirees is that Colorado’s sales taxes (which have a local component) are on the high side and can exceed 11% in some parts of the state. Seniors need to be vigilant about local sales tax increase proposals and local property tax increase proposals that are relentless in requesting more money. Local governments and special districts frequently attempt to elude TABOR restrictions by de-Brucing. As a result, local government tax growth often exceeds the state tax growth rate. Colorado taxpayers have rejected over 20 statewide tax increases since the TABOR amendment to the Colorado Constitution was approved by the voters in 1992. Seniors should oppose de-Brucing efforts at the local level to preserve the TABOR provisions.

Income Tax Range

Excepting the plains, the only thing that is flat in Colorado is the income tax rate. Colorado became a flat tax state in 1987 and has a flat income tax rate of 4.55% (the approval of Proposition 116, which appeared on the November 2020 ballot, reduced the rate from 4.63% to 4.55%). TABOR limits how much its revenue can grow from year-to-year by lowering the tax rate if revenue growth is too high. For example, in 2019, this resulted in a rate reduction to 4.5%. Colorado is only one of nine states in the US with a flat income tax. The others are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Only Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have a lower flat tax than Colorado. However, none of these states have a taxpayer’s bill of rights (TABOR) like Colorado does.

Denver and a few other cities in Colorado also impose a monthly payroll tax.

Taxation of Social Security Benefits
Up to $24,000 of Social Security benefits taxed by the federal government, along with other retirement income, can be excluded for Colorado income tax purposes ($20,000 for taxpayers 55 to 64 years old). The exclusion is capped at $20,000 or $24,000 (dependent upon age) regardless of what retirement income is applied. In other words, if a taxpayer has Social Security income, IRA income, and pension income, the cap limits restrict the total exclusion to $20,000/$24,000.

Continue reading

Feb 12

Petition For Writ Of Certiorari To The Colorado Supreme Court

In regards to the lawsuit we filed to overturn the Hospital Provider tax and the subsequent abomination of SB267, we are in the phase of appealing to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The motions the Court is considering from the Court of Appeals ruling is that none of us has standing to bring these matters before legal review. That means that discussion of the facts of the dispute are not being addressed. Unlike the appellate level, the Supreme Court does not have to accept the case for review.

Our attorneys at Cause of Action filed the petition on time, as we are the petitioners.
The Respondents (The State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Health Care Financing, Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise, Kim Bimestefer, Colorado Department of the Treasury, and Dave Young) filed a Reply brief on January 28th arguing that since none of us pay the bed tax (not true) that the Supreme Court should not take up the case (or any of the substantive issues including $400 million of new taxing authority).

The last action was Lee Steven writing a reply with his reasoned, thorough, and direct arguments, that we certainly have standing for all the other issues which Defendants ignored, and also that we have standing on the tax vs. fee question that started it all.

I believe that we are indeed fortunate to have such an excellent, skilled professional working on our behalf.

All three written arguments referenced in the preceding paragraph are attached for your perusal, as well as posted on the TABOR website (http://thetaborfoundation.org/lega…/hospital-provider-tax/).

Finally, here’s a response from our local legal counsel, William Banta:
“There should be no more replies, responses, or rebuttals.
The next step should be the Supreme Court’s decision, either granting or denying our request for certiorari (reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision).”

Penn Pfiffner,
Chairman of the Board of Directors, TABOR Foundation