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.

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):

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 09

Mallory: Beware end-run around voters on gas tax hike

Now, on ly a little over two months later, those politicians are cooking up a new plan to create an end run around TABOR that would cost the state’s drivers millions.

The lack of respect for the people who elected them is breathtaking.

Proposals for what supporters are calling a “gas fee” — it’s an increase in the gas tax, don’t be fooled — would be a blatant violation of TABOR, and particularly insulting in light of the expansion of taxpayer protections approved in November and votes to reject two other road-funding proposals in 2018.


The message this sends to every Coloradan who voted to strengthen TABOR and to oppose the 2018 initiatives is that the politicians in Denver don’t seem to care what you say, no matter how often you say it. So we’ll just have to say it again, even louder.
for what supporters are calling a “gas fee” — it’s an increase in the gas tax, don’t be fooled — would be a blatant violation of TABOR, and particularly insulting in light of the expansion of taxpayer protections approved in November and votes to reject two other road-funding proposals in 2018.

If the message sent by politicians is “we don’t care what you think,” our message to them has been and continues to be, “stop wasting our money, set priorities, and make better use of the money we are already sending you.”

This new fee — whose cost has yet to be determined — would be in addition to the state’s 22-cents per gallon gas tax (which is in addition to the federal 18.4 cents per gallon tax).

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