Jan 29

Possible repeal of Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to get rehearing

Possible repeal of Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to get rehearing

January 28, 2019 By Sherrie Peif

DENVER — Two Denver residents behind a proposed ballot initiative to repeal the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) have filed for a rehearing after the Colorado Title Board initially rejected their proposal.

On Jan. 16, the Title Board denied setting a title on an initiative that would ask voters to repeal the 26-year-old constitutional amendment that requires voter approval to increase taxes or take on new debt.  TABOR also limits the growth of a portion of the state budget to a formula of population growth plus inflation. The board said the initiative violated Colorado’s single subject rule.

Board member LeeAnn Morrill, who represented the Attorney General’s office, cited a Supreme Court decision over a 2002 proposed initiative that included a provision preventing the complete repeal of TABOR. She pointed out that the court stated in its decision: Continue reading

Jan 17

Colorado Title Board denies attempt to repeal Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

DENVER — The Colorado Title Board rejected a proposal on Wednesday to put a full repeal of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) before voters in a future election.

The board voted 3-0 that the proposal violated the single subject rule and the board did not have jurisdiction to set a ballot title.

Proponents Carol Hedges and Steve Briggs had an initial hearing before the Title Board at 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Although voters several years ago passed new rules that make adding an amendment to Colorado’s constitution harder, it still only takes a simple majority to repeal an amendment.

Denver-based attorney Edward Ramey, who represented the proponents, said the proposal was to do “one thing and one thing only.”

“That’s to repeal Article X, Section 20 of the Constitution,” Ramey told the board. “I emphasize that because we’re not adding anything to it. We’re not trying to tweak anything. We’re not repealing and ellipsis doing anything. This is just a straight repeal.”

Ramey said the single subject debate keeps coming up because the consensus is TABOR itself contains more than one subject, but he disagreed with those findings. He cited a couple of Colorado Supreme Court rulings that addressed the subject in a manner that he believed favored his clients in this case. Continue reading

Jan 15

Effort launched to repeal Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

Effort launched to repeal Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights; possible ballot issue before the Title Board

The Title Board is the first step in putting a citizen-initiated question before voters.

TABOR is a constitutional amendment that was passed by voters in 1992 that requires voter approval to increase taxes or take on new debt.  It also limits the growth of a portion of the state budget to a formula of population growth plus inflation. It has been a controversial topic since its inception, and it’s been debated in the courts numerous times.

Many Democrats say it is a threat to Colorado’s education, transportation and health care funding, while Republicans counter that it is what has allowed the Colorado economy to prosper, as well as allowing Colorado to more easily weather economic downturns than states that lack taxpayer protections such as TABOR.

Many attempts to repeal or tweak portions of the amendment have come before the Title Board. This is the first time, however, that anyone can recall where a full repeal of the amendment has been proposed.

Continue reading

Dec 28

It’s Not Too Late….

The World Happiness Report provides data and research used around the world to help shape and inform policy.

Among its findings: giving to others is good for you.  It makes you feel happy.1-8

 Since 1992, the TABOR Foundation protects the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  We educate citizens on why it matters to have a vote on increased taxes and how a formula for predictable growth creates a sound economy.

We are all volunteers.

We give advice and direction to citizens working at their local level to stop TABOR violations. We assist as plaintiffs and “friends of the courts in lawsuits to stop such violations.

The biggest trick of politicians is calling a new tax a “fee” – whether it’s for plastic grocery bags, living in a special district, running a hospital, driving over a bridge, or funding a mandatory family leave program with an insurance “fee.” We’ve responded to inquiries not just in Colorado, but in states like South Dakota, Kansas, Arizona, Alaska and Florida.

Please donate:

  • Help fund our Speaker’s Bureau to educate fellow taxpayers about their rights.
  • Help produce the TABOR 101 series of policy/how-to videos.
  • Help fund the legal fees for amicus briefs.

Please donate.   You – and we – will be happy you did.

Thanks – and Happy New Year!

Your friends at the TABOR Foundation

https://www.facebook.com/coloradoTABOR/

www.theTaborFoundation.org

Continue reading

Dec 15

Nicolais: An attack on TABOR could leave Colorado Democrats feeling the squeeze

Nicolais: An attack on TABOR could leave Colorado Democrats feeling the squeeze

A court composed of mostly Hickenlooper appointees turns the governor down cold, setting up a possible legislative showdown

PUBLISHED ONDEC 9, 2018 5:55AM MST

Mario Nicolais@MarioNicolaiEsq

Special to The Colorado Sun

Before walking out the door from the governor’s office, John Hickenlooper took one last shot at a Democratic boogeyman. Last week, the Colorado Supreme Court denied Hickenlooper’s parting attempt to undercut TABOR, the conservative taxpayer’s bill of rights enshrined in the Colorado constitution.

Democrats, have long derided TABOR for the constraints it places on government. Not only does TABOR require a vote of the people to approve tax increases, but several of its provisions work in conjunction with other laws to create a “ratcheting effect” on government spending.


Mario Nicolais

If revenues drop during an economic downturn, they cannot return to prior levels as the economy rebounds. Instead, growth is artificially tied to the down year plus a pittance for inflation.

The ratchet works like boa constrictor wrapped around a person. With every breath out, the snake squeezes a little tighter and the next breathe in is a little shallower.

Eventually, no breath can be drawn, and the person dies. I’m sure it delights TABOR’s progenitor, the eccentric Douglas Bruce, to imagine the government being asphyxiated.

Democrats have a little different view; they see a snake crushing the life from Colorado citizens. Gasping for funds no longer available, state and local services wither and waste away. Continue reading

Dec 07

TABOR supporters: ‘Sigh of relief’ but threat to taxpayers not over after court ruling

FILE - CO Gov. John Hickenlooper 2012
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (World Economic Forum |Flickr via Creative Commons)

Outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper asked the state Supreme Court to review the compatibility of two constitutional amendments governing the calculations of taxes to determine if one should be removed. The court rejected his request.

The 1982 Gallagher Amendment and the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), designed to protect taxpayers, Hickenlooper wrote, created an “irreconcilable conflict in Colorado’s Constitution.”

The Gallagher Amendment sets the percentage for taxing residential and commercial property owners according to a specific formula that allows the residential assessment rate (RAR) to fluctuate and maintain the ratio to prevent large, unexpected spikes in tax bills.

TABOR prevents local and state governments from increasing taxes without voter approval, including any changes to the Gallagher formula. Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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 26

PLF opposes illegal taxes in Colorado

PLF opposes illegal taxes in Colorado

The Colorado Secretary of State has been illegally charging businesses millions of dollars in unnecessary filing fees every year. Rather than refund those excess fees, the secretary funneled the money into his general budget, converting the fees into general tax revenue in violation of the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The National Federation of Independent Business sued to stop the unconstitutional fees, and the case is now before the Colorado Supreme Court.

PLF partnered with three other liberty organizations in this friend of the court brief, making two important arguments:

  • First, PLF urged the Colorado Supreme Court to do away with the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for unconstitutional laws, because it neuters the court’s ability to strike down unconstitutional laws and allows many unconstitutional laws to remain on the books.
  • Second, PLF argued that the amount of a fee cannot exceed the cost of providing the service or regulation funded by the charge. Here, 90% of the business “fees” fund services and regulations totally unrelated to businesses.

Weekly litigation report: Private property rights and illegal taxation