Colorado Court of Appeals rejects challenge under Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights – Lexology
A handful of Colorado-based conservative organizations that sought tax-exempt status from the IRS are on the recently disclosed list of groups that were hit with additional scrutiny in the application process. In 2013, the IRS admitted and apologized for delaying the applications for tax-exempt status to groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in the group name.
A group called “TBD Colorado” is also on the list. Complete Colorado has not confirmed at the moment that the group is the same as the “To Be Determined Colorado” initiative launched by Governor Hickenlooper.
Among the list:
- Citizen Awareness Project
- Clear Information Colorado
- Coalition for a Conservative Majority Colorado Springs
- Coalition for a Conservative Majority Denver Chapter
- Colorado Women’s Alliance
- Common Sense Colorado
- Northwest Colorado Alliance, Inc.
- Tea Party Patriots, Denver
- TBD Colorado
- The TABOR Committee
All of the groups appear to have a conservative or right-of-center leaning with the exception of TBD Colorado, if that group is indeed the non-profit arm of the Governor’s effort “to find solutions to the difficult problems facing the state.”
The list was created as a result of a class action lawsuit against the IRS. According to the Washington Times, which broke the story on Sunday:
The tax agency filed the list last month as part of a court case after a series of federal judges, fed up with what they said was the agency’s stonewalling, ordered it to get a move on. The case is a class-action lawsuit, so the list of names is critical to knowing the scope of those who would have a claim against the IRS.
Complete Colorado reported in May of 2013 that The TABOR Committee felt as though it had received unnecessary and unfair questioning regarding the nature of their organizations. That group is on the list.*
“Certainly, we were damaged by this,” said Penn Pfiffner, Chairman of the TABOR Committee. “It’s very likely that we’ll be looking to recover the costs by the delay in responding to the extraordinary questions we got.”
Among the many questions asked in the letter to The TABOR Committee were such items as:
“…please provide each [board officer’s] names and addresses of each individual’s employer/business, the nature of their employment/business…”
“Please provide copies of agendas and/or descriptions of topics covered at each of the organization’s general meetings and events since inception.”
“Please submit copies of all publications and/or advertising materials that have been distributed or will be distributed.”
The list of 426 names does not include 40 other names of organizations that had already opted out of being a part of any class action suit. However, the list of 426 exceeds the original estimate from the IRS of 298 groups that were targeted.
*The 2013 report names the group as The Tabor Foundation. The TABOR Foundation is the (c)(3), and The TABOR Committee is the (c)(4) arm of the same group.
CORRECTION: The original publishing of this article listed Common Sense Colorado as an organization that would not be considered right-of-center or conservative. That is incorrect.
Send us tips at CompleteColorado@gmail.com.
Anti-TABOR lawsuit deserved latest setback in federal court
Cyrus McCrimmon, Denver Post file
Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is defending the state against a lawsuit regarding TABOR.
June 7, 2016 |
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has multiple flaws that this editorial page has documented repeatedly over the years while urging lawmakers and voters to fix them.
We’re also on record as recently as last month urging the legislature to adopt a budgetary mechanism to free up revenue that otherwise would have to be refunded under TABOR.
But our critique of TABOR doesn’t extend to questioning the right of voters to enact or defend it. The 5-year-old lawsuit arguing that TABOR violates the U.S. Constitution’s mandate that states have a “Republican Form of Government” is too strained and exotic for our taste. It deserved the setback it suffered last week in federal court.
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that several Colorado lawmakers who are plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue because they do not represent the General Assembly as a whole.
Lunch Links: Puerto Rico Vote This Week, Gun Tax, and TABOR Survives Constitutional Challenge
June 06, 2016
Today is June 6, the date in 1978 when California voters approved Proposition 13 by a wide margin of 65 percent to 35 percent. Spearheaded by activist Howard Jarvis after years of skyrocketing property tax increases, Prop. 13 immediately cut property taxes by 30 percent and capped them thereafter: property taxes are limited to 1 percent of assessed value and the assessed value can only be increased a maximum of 2 percent per year, unless a change of ownership occurs. The “California tax revolt” symbolized by Prop. 13’s passage led to similar initiatives in other states. Although there is occasional criticism of how Proposition 13 works and its lock-in effects, it remains a third rail in California politics.
Here are some interesting links I came across:
- S. House to Vote on Puerto Rico Bill This Week:The bill sets up a control board to oversee the island’s finances and restructure its $70 billion debt. It’s backed by Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, and Treasury Secretary Lew, but some Democrats are unhappy with a provision reducing the island’s minimum wage for young workers, and some Republicans are unhappy with the precedent the bill creates. (Bloomberg)
- Appeals Court Rejects Constitutional Challenge to Spending Limitation: The federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruledthat individual Colorado lawmakers do not have standing to challenge their Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending limitation. They left open the question of whether the Legislature as a whole can bring such a challenge. The lawmakers argued that TABOR deprives Colorado of functioning representative government in violation of the Guarantee Clause of the Constitution. (10th Circuit)
- Hillary Clinton and the Gun Tax: In a 1993 hearing, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton endorsed the idea of a 25 percent gun tax. Asked yesterday by George Stephanopoulos of ABC if she still supports it, she declined to answer but defended the proposal as a way to cover medical and law enforcement costs. (ABC)
- Oklahoma to Vote on Sales Tax Increase: The one-cent increase will appear on the November ballot as State Question 779. (The Oklahoman)
- Switzerland Rejects Guaranteed Basic Income: A proposal to give each Swiss adult 2,500 francs (about $2,500) each month was rejected at the ballot box, 23 percent to 77 percent. (Wall Street Journal)
And be sure to check out our new map on alcohol taxes.
Progressives Return To Their Roots
The Virgin Islands’ Attorney General issued a subpoena against ExxonMobil and a free-market think tank in Washington, branding, blacklisting, and besmirching hundreds from coast to coast as participants in a long-running criminal conspiracy. The think tank’s lawyer reviled the subpoena as “offensive,” “unlawful,” a violation of “civil rights,” and “un-American.” It is all that but one: “un-American.” It has its roots in progressives’ earliest and proudest days.
Oh no! Liberal golden boy state Sen. Andy Kerr has been spanked by the U.S. Supreme Court for trying to undo TABOR, which is the taxpayers bill of rights that requires taxpayer approval in order to raise taxes. The court’s ruling basically said that a select few legislators simply did not have the right to overturn a constitutional amendment, no matter how badly they want that fat cash for special interests. Ok, fine, we added that last part. But it’s true.
The case has been working its way through the court system, first taken up by Attorney General John Suthers and finished today by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who offered the following statement:
“I hope this decisive win will convince TABOR’s opponents that the courts are not the place to pursue their political agenda. However, my legal team and I will continue to defend taxpayers’ rights against legal challenge as long as we have to.”
While Team Kerr was told no, the court left open the possibility that a different set of plaintiffs (not legislators) could pursue a similar legal argument. Liberals just cannot wait to get their greedy paws on more taxpayer funds, so we don’t anticipate they will give up anytime soon.
10th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Colorado’s tax restriction (TABOR) » Publications » Washington Policy Center
By JASON MERCIER |
The American Bar Association provides this summary of the case:
“Colorado state legislators sought to invalidate key provisions of the Colorado Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR), claiming that those provisions interfered with their constitutional voting abilities and thus violated the Guarantee Clause of the federal constitution. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the named party tasked with defending TABOR, argued that the legislators’ claims ought to be dismissed for lack of standing, and as nonjusticiable under the political question doctrine. The Tenth Circuit found that TABOR had caused actionable injury to the legislative plaintiffs by depriving them of their unique ability to affect Colorado tax policy by their votes, and (upon quick findings of causation and redressability) held that those plaintiffs possessed both Article III and prudential standing. The court held that a case-by-case approach to the political question doctrine was required by Baker v. Carr, and that the legislative plaintiffs’ Guarantee Clause claims were not barred as nonjusticiable by any of the six factors detailed in that case.”
The potential impact of this original ruling on voter approved fiscal restraints of any kind on lawmakers across the country was very troubling to us which is why WPC signed on to an amicus in the case when it was before the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 30, 2015, the Supreme Court granted our petition and vacated the prior judgment and remanded the case back to the 10th Circuit for further consideration in light of the ruling in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Comm (2015).
Today the 10th Circuit ruled that lawmakers challenging the Colorado tax restriction lacked standing as individual lawmakers. The court ruled that only the legislature as an institution could challenge Colorado’s constitutional tax restriction. Colorado is one of 17 states with some form of supermajority vote or voter-approval requirement for tax increases.
Washington voters going all the way back to 1979 with Initiative 62, have consistently called for a higher threshold to raise taxes. The state Supreme Court, however, has ruled that a supermajority requirement for tax increases can only be enacted via a constitutional amendment. A December poll conducted by Elway Research, INC found that 65% of Washington voters want lawmakers to act on such a constitutional amendment. Should voters finally get the chance to consider one, the federal courts have again made it clear the people have the right to restrict tax increases via their state constitutions.
“Today the Judiciary ruled in favor of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). Opponents of TABOR had asked the federal courts to rule it unconstitutional. Arguments about whether a full trial should even begin had been appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court. That highest Court had directed the 10th Circuit located here in Denver to reconsider the case in light of more recent precedent. With today’s decision by the 10th Circuit Court, it appears that this case will be dismissed and TABOR will survive unscathed.
Your TABOR Foundation joined a group of limited government proponents to file Friend-of-the Court briefs at each step in support of TABOR. We were ably represented in that effort by the National Federation of Independent Business through its attorney, Luke Wake.
We can be grateful that the most existential threat to TABOR is gone, for now. We should be diligent that the Leftists who want to repeal such limits on the growth of governments will try again in a different fashion.