Jun 16

Public Statement On The Hospital Provider Case

On Monday, June 14, the Colorado Supreme Court declined to consider the appeal of case brought by the TABOR Foundation, et. al. to stop the blatantly unconstitutional Hospital Provider tax and program.  That means the ruling of the lower Court of Appeals is the final say.

The original filing in June 2015 addressed the issue that the new bed tax was required to have voter approval under TABOR, but that the legislature had violated the citizen right.  Then in a related development, in 2017 state senator Jerry Sonnenberg revived the dormant senate bill 267 in the last few days of the session, enacting a host of terrible new laws, violating the single-subject rule and among many other bad ideas, opening $400 million/year in new taxation and spending without a TABOR vote.  Our case was amended (twice) to incorporate that abomination and we added many items to our request for remedy.

The trial court judge sat on the case for two years, not even scheduling a hearing.  Then he ruled against the citizens.  We appealed his decision.  The appeals panel found that no one had standing to sue, so prohibited the case from moving forward on the merits.  “It was as if the judges did not bother to read the written arguments or to care about the substance of the amended lawsuit,” said TABOR Committee chairman Penn Pfiffner.  “Their decision ignored all issues brought forward except for the imposition of the bed tax.  It was so insufficient, so lacking, as to be amateurish.  Unfortunately, the Colorado Supreme Court went along with the foolishness.”

Beyond adding up $400 million each year in new taxation and spending without the required vote of the people, it put the State into debt by $2 billion, which should also have required separate voter approval.  Imagine – taxpayers spend $400 million more each year and they don’t have standing!  The Court appears to have dropped any attempt to be true to the constitution and to respect that citizens are (supposed to be) in charge of their governments.

May 12

Debunking the top 5 misleading claims about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights experience

Featured Image

 

  • Debate over North Carolina’s recently proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights will begin heating up soon
  • Opponents will likely try to portray Colorado’s experience in a negative light, to serve as a warning
  • Their major claims, however, are easily debunked

North Carolina legislators recently filed a bill that would enable voters to decide if a Taxpayer Bill of Rights should be added to the state constitution.

The main feature of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights is that it would limit the annual growth rate of the state budget to a rate tied to inflation plus population growth. Other provisions would require voter approval of tax increases and mandate that excess revenue collections be used to bolster the state’s Rainy Day fund and refunded back to taxpayers.

The benefits of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights are many, most notable in that it would make permanent the fiscal restraint that conservative lawmakers have exercised over the last decade. Common-sense restraints on spending can smooth out spending cycles, better prepare the state for economic downturns, and enable tax cuts to make North Carolina more competitive for investment and job growth.

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May 12

GUEST COLUMN: Family budgets beset by politician’s plans

Paul Lundeen
Paul Lundeen

There is no doubt Colorado needs to upgrade its roads and bridges. You can’t drive in El Paso County without swerving around potholes. Now that the pandemic appears to have crossed a tipping point, wait times are building again to get from Colorado Springs to Denver.

The fact that Colorado legislators are paying attention to our infrastructure problems should be a win. But SB 260 is more about building government than building roads.

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May 04

Protect Colorado Taxpayers – Vote NO on the Gas Tax

You’ve likely heard about the legislature’s new gas tax proposal, which seeks to raise over $4 billion to “solve” our infrastructure needs. This massive proposal includes new charges at the gas pump, on delivery services like Amazon, ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, and more.   No matter who you are, they have a new charge for you.

We all agree that our roads and bridges need repair, but Coloradans already pay 22 cents per gallon in State taxes, on top of the 18.4 cents we pay in federal taxes. For certain politicians that’s just not enough.

Much of the debate has focused on the questionable legality of the proposal, due to the passage of Proposition 117 just this past November.  That requires governments to receive voter approval before enacting these types of new, large “fees.” The unique protections of our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, require the legislature to obtain voter approval before raising taxes. But sponsors won’t let that stop them. Instead, they’re calling these new taxes, “fees,”’ so that Colorado voters won’t have a voice in the process. Continue reading

Apr 16

2021 Colorado Legislature: Bigger Government, Smaller Us

By Christine Burtt, TABOR Foundation Board Member
4/13/2021

 

There are several onerous pieces of legislation in Colorado this year that will negatively impact your standard of living, if not your way of life.

Here are three notable examples.

 

  • HB21-1083, the so-called “Don’t dare to challenge the government’s valuation on your home” bill, was designed to create a chilling effect on homeowners questioning the assessment that calculates their property tax.

 

The bill, which has been signed into law by Governor Polis, was initiated by the Colorado Assessors. It changes existing law that prevented a county assessor from raising taxes on a property if the homeowner challenged an assessment. The previous law gave homeowners an appeals process if they believed their property had been assessed at a value higher than was warranted.

, with the new law, if you challenge the valuation set by the county assessor, the assessor may keep the valuation as stated, or may even increase your property tax. It won’t go down. Continue reading

Mar 25

Several key principles the majority of Coloradans support

Dear Friend,

Even though times may seem more polarizing now than ever, one thing most Coloradans can agree on is that they want every citizen of our state to be allowed to flourish. They may have strong opinions on the issues, but surprisingly, there are still several key principles the majority of Coloradans support.

After conducting extensive statewide polling, I outlined 10 practical ideas the GOP should embrace to address some of the big issues that Coloradans care about:

  1. Continue to protect our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Few things are more popular than people being allowed to vote on any tax (or large fee) increase.
  2. Lower taxes. Coloradans overwhelmingly support a property tax cut for both residential and commercial property. With housing costs on the rise, low-income families would especially benefit from this tax cut.
  3. Increase teacher pay. More of the existing money we spend on education should go to teachers instead of the bureaucracy.
  4. School choice. The impact of the pandemic on our education system has led to even more support for parental choice. Colorado should also pass a stipend for families to use for out-of-school learning opportunities – like tutoring.
  5. Public safety. With crime on the rise in many Colorado communities, voters are looking for leadership on this issue. They strongly oppose any destruction of property. And while they are open to reforms within the law enforcement system, they certainly don’t want to dismantle or defund it.

Read all 10 of my ideas here.

With 42% of Coloradans choosing to be unaffiliated with a political party, it’s more important than ever for candidates to be clear about their plans if voters entrust them with power. If Colorado Republicans unite around a few key issues, and drive their message home with voters, I believe the party will quickly begin to make a comeback.

Sincerely,

Michael Fields
Executive Director of Colorado Rising State Action

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.

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