Dec 04

State Supreme Court turns down Hickenlooper on Gallagher/TABOR review

State Supreme Court turns down Hickenlooper on Gallagher/TABOR review

Colorado Supreme Court building
The Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in downtown Denver is the home of the Colorado Supreme Court, the state Court of Appeals and the office of the state attorney general.

The Colorado Supreme Court on Monday turned down a request from Gov. John Hickenlooper that sought to resolve what he believes are conflicts between the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and the Gallagher Amendment.

The Court did not provide a reason in denying the request.

Hickenlooper submitted “interrogatories” — a series of questions —  on Nov. 20 that asked the Court to look at the conflicts between TABOR, passed by voters in 1992, and Gallagher, adopted by voters in 1982. Critics say the conflict is siphoning off tax revenue for schools and local government services, such as firefighting.

Those conflicts are “preventing local governments from funding even limited essential services,” Hickenlooper’s filing with the court said. “… It has resulted in the steady erosion of the budgets of local governments in communities throughout the state that rely on property taxes.”

The erosion is about to get a lot worse.

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Dec 02

Colorado cities want to tap into online sales revenue. That means the state’s messy sales tax system could get messier.

Colorado cities want to tap into online sales revenue. That means the state’s messy sales tax system could get messier.

In South Dakota v. Wayfair, Supreme Court ruled online taxes can’t be “burdensome” for interstate sales, but Colorado’s complex system will put the ruling to the test

As state regulators scramble to expand online sales taxes in the wake of a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Colorado’s largest cities could suddenly find themselves missing out on a new funding spigot worth millions of dollars each year.

But if they try to get their piece of a growing tax pie — Denver alone could reap more than $5 million each year — experts say they’re just as likely to find themselves in federal court.

The net result could be a hybrid system unlike any other in the country: one that would effectively require out-of-state businesses to collect some sales taxes but not others.

The U.S. Supreme Court in June overturned a de facto ban on interstate online sales taxes, ruling in South Dakota v. Wayfair that a state can require online retailers to collect and remit sales taxes regardless of whether they have a physical presence there.

The catch: states aren’t allowed to put an excessive burden on interstate businesses. And where South Dakota’s system was designed to be simple and user-friendly, Colorado’s is notoriously complicated and cumbersome — so much so that tax experts across the country believe it’s the most likely test case for the lingering question from the Wayfair case: What exactly constitutes an excessive burden?

The question has complicated Colorado’s efforts to expand online sales taxes to out-of-state retailers. And it has left top policymakers, advocacy groups and business coalitions urging patience. Continue reading

Nov 09

A sit-down with Jared Polis day after winning Colorado governor’s race

INTERVIEW: Jared Polis on energy, death penalty, TABOR and more

Author: Next with Kyle Clark, 9News – November 9, 2018 –

Colorado Gov.-elect Jared Polis is interviewed Nov. 7 on “Next with Kyle Clark.” (KUSA-9News, Denver)

Shortly after he was elected governor of Colorado, Jared Polis sat down with 9News anchor Kyle Clark to discuss his historic victory and his plans.

During a 10-minute conversation, which aired Nov. 7 on 9News’ “Next with Kyle Clark,” the Democrat weighed in on oil and gas regulation, the death penalty, TABOR and taxes, and on being America’s first openly gay candidate to be elected governor.

Here’s a transcript of Clark’s interview with Polis. And watch the full interview below.

Kyle Clark: Governor Elect Jared Polis, congratulations. Welcome back to “Next.”

Jared Polis: Thank you, Kyle. Pleasure to be here.


Clark:
 Colorado voters gave Democrats sweeping control of state government last night, yet they also rejected two statewide tax increases and rejected increased restrictions on oil and gas drilling. What’s your takeaway from all that together? Continue reading

Oct 22

Ballot initiative seeks to increase taxes by $1.6 billion

Admin’s note: Vote NO on 73. It’s not “for the kids” as supporters of this TAX INCREASE say. This ballot question is a liberals spending dream and an end run around TABOR. Education already gets a funding increase every year since Amendment 23 passed in 2000. It’s too bad that student’s achievement results didn’t rise. More money does not equal better outcomes. TABOR will survive this misguided attempt.

Ballot initiative seeks to increase taxes by $1.6 billion; could end Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights

A controversial ballot initiative would raise taxes on Coloradans by $1.6 billion to increase funding for public schools if approved. Opponents argue it also would make the constitutionally protected Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) impotent.

Amendment 73, the Establish Income Tax Brackets and Raise Taxes for Education Initiative, seeks to amend the state constitution to replace Colorado’s flat rate income tax with a progressive income tax. Individuals earning more than $150,000 would be taxed more and the corporate income tax rate would increase. The revenue collected from the tax hikes would go into a newly created Quality Public Education Fund.

The state constitution requires a 55 percent supermajority vote for the initiative to become law.

“‘Take your success elsewhere’ should be the signs erected if Colorado approves Amendment 73,” Penn Pfiffner, former state legislator and chairman of the board of the TABOR Foundation, told Watchdog.org. “The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights properly treats everyone equally, requiring the same income tax rate be applied to everyone. Currently, if you make more money, you pay more, but only at the rate that everyone else pays. This proposal would change that, bringing an attitude that the upper middle class and wealthy should be attacked and made to pay increasing amounts. It is the worst concept in raising taxes.”

A group of opponents of the measure launched a “Blank Check. Blatant Deception. Vote No on 73,” campaign, arguing the ballot language is deceptive. It tried to have the question removed after the required deadline and Colorado’s secretary of state rejected its complaint. Continue reading

Sep 21

Most Coloradans aren’t getting a TABOR tax refund – for now – according to latest revenue forecast

Most Coloradans aren’t getting a TABOR tax refund – for now – according to latest revenue forecast

The state collected $37.5 million more than it’s allowed under TABOR

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

Most Coloradans won’t get a TABOR tax refund next spring even though the state collected millions more dollars than it’s allowed to keep, according to the quarterly revenue forecast presented to lawmakers Thursday.

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, limits how much money Colorado can collect from residents each year. Whatever comes in above the limit has to go back to the people. And for the fiscal year that ended in June, that’s a total of about $37 million.

However, a 2017 law requires the first refunds go to the state-administered senior homestead exemption and disabled veterans property tax exemption before they go to everyone else.

Exceeding the TABOR limit is a sign of the Colorado economy’s continued growth — even beyond the expectations of just a few months ago. In the last quarterly report, in June, state forecasters thought revenue would come in under the TABOR cap by $93 million.

To read the rest of this story, click (HERE):

Sep 05

Amendment 73 property tax changes detrimental to non-school district taxing authorities

Miller: Amendment 73 property tax changes detrimental to non-school district taxing authorities

There would be four additional income tax brackets on top of the current 4.63 percent single rate for individual filers, with a top rate of 8.25 percent, along with a 30 percent increase in the corporate income tax.

To stabilize school district property tax revenues, the writers of the amendment went into the property tax laws and did some embellishing there, too. They should have stopped with the income tax.

The Gallagher Amendment, passed in 1982, is the foundation of our property tax system. Gallagher specifies that 45 percent of all property taxes paid statewide are paid on residential properties and that 55 percent are paid on nonresidential properties. That 45:55 proportion is the “Gallagher ratio”.

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Aug 30

Candidates traveled different paths to Treasurer’s office race

Candidates traveled different paths to Treasurer’s office race

As a member of the Joint Budget Committee for the past four years, retired math teacher and term-limited State Representative Dave Young has had a front row seat to how every department of the state functions.

As a self-made entrepreneur and CEO of an investment firm, Brian Watson has spent most of his career managing other people’s money.

Despite two very different paths to the Colorado Treasurer’s office, both men believe they have the skills necessary to do the job.

As different as their experience is, what they’ll do when they get there is equally different, in everything from the role the Treasurer should play on the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) board, state policy formation, and the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

“The Treasurer sits on several boards, the big one being the PERA board,” said Young, the Democrat nominee. “Having sat on the joint budget committee, I see the financial crisis the state is in. We a have a deep hole in every aspect of our budget, and it’s because we have the most restrictive tax and expenditure provision in our constitution of any state in the union. The collision of TABOR and Gallagher — they are working against us.”

The Gallagher Amendment is a provision in the Colorado Constitution passed by voters in 1982 that made major changes to property tax assessments in Colorado, including lowering the tax burden immediately on certain types of property and exempting certain property (such as household furnishings, non-business personal items, business inventory, livestock, and farm or ranch equipment, to name a few). Most importantly, perhaps, is Gallagher limits how fast the assessed value can grow on residences. Because residential property value has grown much faster than commercial property, residential assessment rates have dropped from 21 percent in 1982 to 7.20 percent today.  Over the same time period, however, inflation adjusted property tax revenues have risen from $1.35 billion in 1982 to nearly $9 billion in 2017.

TABOR is another amendment to the Colorado Constitution. It was passed by voters in 1992. It limits the growth of government to the annual inflation rate and population change. It requires government entities to take all new debt and tax increases to voters.

“I will use my business experience to help the legislature be a positive force in addressing the budget issues the state has,” said the Republican nominee Watson about working under Gallagher/TABOR restrictions. “I will meet with them as well and work with them.  I think the people of Colorado have made clear their priorities.”

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Aug 15

IN RESPONSE | We don’t need a tax hike to fix Colorado’s highways

In this Jan. 7 photo, traffic backs up on Interstate 70 in Colorado, a familiar scene on the main highway connecting Denver to the mountains. (AP Photo/Thomas Peipert)

(Re: “Only one ballot issue can tackle Colorado’s transportation challenges,” Aug. 10.)

Let’s fix our roads without a massive 21 percent increase of our state sales tax. The collaborative cronyists’ proposal, “Let’s Go Colorado” — a huge tax increase, allegedly for transportation — hurts everyday, hardworking Coloradans who are chasing their American dream.  If the politicians, bureaucrats, governmental appointees and interested parties behind the proposal, get their way, we’ll pay an additional 21 percent in state sales tax on basic items that make our lives better such as diapers, toilet paper and school supplies.

When enjoying a craft brew with colleagues, buying a good book or meeting friends for dinner, we would pay an additional 21 percent in state sales tax.  And those new school clothes, soccer balls, books and dance shoes for the kids?  You got it!  An additional 21 percent in state sales tax.  If passed, Colorado would be the 13th-highest state in the country for taxes at the register.

Politicians, bureaucrats, governmental appointees and interested parties are selling this new tax as only cents on the dollar.  Here’s the reality: Currently, Colorado state sales tax sits at 2.9 percent.  Let’s Go Colorado would increase the state sales tax to 3.52 percent, which is a significant 21 percent increase.  And it’s a regressive tax that disproportionately hurts people in the toughest situations and who trying to get ahead, such as the poor, vulnerable, elderly and our young people.

There is a better way to get Colorado going. “Fix Our Damn Roads” is a ballot initiative that directs the state legislature to dedicate a portion of Colorado’s growing revenue to fix our roads and bridges, without increasing taxes. Colorado has the money.  Our revenue continues to increase.  Colorado is expected to collect an additional $1.29 billion next fiscal year, thanks to federal tax cuts, economic growth and a resurgent oil and gas industry.  Colorado has the money.

Gas taxes were created as a user tax.  The tax was charged at the pump and the tax revenue was to be used for our roads and bridges.  However, the state has been spending our gas tax money on pet projects and other stuff.  Per an Institute of Energy Research report, 16 percent of federal gas tax money is siphoned off for non-road and bridge projects such as transit, pedestrian and bicycle paths and facilities, recreation trails, landscaping, environmental mitigation and transportation museums.  If the money would have gone to where it was promised and purposed, our roads and bridges would be in good condition and repair.

Let’s compare the two competing transportation ballot questions for this November.  Fix Our Damn Roads:  (1) Fixes our roads and bridges without a tax increase; (2) designates exactly where the money will be spent; (3) names the projects (From CDOT’S Tier One list) in the ballot measure; (4) honors the will of the people and TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights; (5) does not include carve-outs for special interests, and (6) bonds for $3.5 billion with a repayment cost, including interest, of $5.2 billion to fix our roads and bridges.

Let’s Go Colorado: (1) Proposes a massive 21 percent state sales tax increase; (2) provides a goody bag of money for politicians, bureaucrats, lobbyists and interested parties to spend on pet projects; (3) lacks transparency and accountability to everyday, hardworking Coloradans, i.e. there are no specific projects named in the ballot measure; (4) includes language that money collected above the TABOR limits is not returned to the people; (5) includes an exemption for aviation and jet fuels, and (6) bonds for $6 billion with a repayment cost, including interest, of $9.4 billion.  Fix Our Damn Roads saves hardworking Coloradans at least $4.2 billion.

We all agree that our roads and bridges could use a little love.  Together, we can do this.  It’s time to Fix Our Damn Roads and let’s do it without a massive tax increase!

Kim Monson
Lone Tree

The author is a former city councilwoman for Lone Tree and co-hosts the “Americhicks — Molly Vogt & Kim Monson” radio show on KLZ 560 AM and the “WWII Project” on KEZW 1430.  

 

IN RESPONSE | We don’t need a tax hike to fix Colorado’s highways

Aug 09

Sales tax hike for transportation a regressive, unstable funding scheme

In November, Coloradans will likely be voting on a scheme to raise the state sales tax to support state and local transportation projects.

Photo and copyright: Tony’s Takes – used by permission

Unfortunately, raising sales taxes would hit all the wrong people, and provide a particularly unstable revenue stream to fund this infrastructure.

It’s no secret that Colorado’s roads and bridges are a mess.  They have failed to keep pace with the state’s growth, even as maintenance has fallen behind.

You either end your weekend trip to the mountains on Sunday morning or you pack a picnic lunch for the parking lot home.  Daily commutes on I-25 come to a standstill between Colorado Springs and Castle Rock.  And driving around Denver means a permanent sinking fund for front-end alignments.

We’re in this state of affairs because the Colorado legislature has consistently failed to spend money on roads and bridges instead of other pet projects.  This year, the legislature passed Senate Bill 1 in an attempt to address the problem, but almost everyone agrees that the paltry spending past the first two years is an inadequate solution.

In response, the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Contractors Association have proposed raising the state sales tax from 2.90 percent to 3.52 percent, and authorizing up to $6 billion in bonds.  The additional revenue would be divided among state highways, local governments, and multi-modal (transit) projects. Continue reading

Aug 06

Legal battles continue over Taxpayer Bill of Rights, hospital fees, transportation taxes

egal battles continue over Taxpayer Bill of Rights, hospital fees, transportation taxes

FILE - Colorado State Capitol
The Colorado State Capitol in Denver, Colorado.

On Nov. 3, 1992, Colorado voters approved a constitutional amendment which stipulates that lawmakers seeking to raise taxes or issue debt must first ask voters for permission.

Called the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, it took effect Dec. 31, 1992, and was designed to serve as another check against the growth of government. It requires that any increase in overall revenue from taxes not exceed the rates of inflation and population growth.

The TABOR Foundation, which was instrumental in advancing the amendment, maintains that it has been a successful measure.

Others maintain it interferes with advancing critical public spending initiatives. Sam Mamet, the executive director of the Colorado Municipal League, opposes TABOR. Mamet argued on the 25th anniversary of TABOR that “iIt is one of the most seriously damaging things the voters of the state have done to themselves in the last 25 years, in my humble opinion.”

Since its inception 26 years ago, many attempts have been made to amend, circumvent and litigate TABOR; the foundation counts at least 80 cases between 1993 and 2017.

Pfiffner said a perfect example of this is the 2015 lawsuit it filed, TABOR Foundation, et al. v. Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing, et al. regarding Colorado’s “hospital provider fee,” which it argues is an unconstitutional tax.

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