Dec 10

Voter consent on taxes and debt a vital check in Democrat-controlled Colorado

Voter consent on taxes and debt a vital check in Democrat-controlled Colorado

After the midterm elections, Colorado voters woke up to an electoral map as blue as the sky. Democrats won almost all competitive races, including every state office. They now control both houses of the state legislature. But before we permanently paint Colorado blue, we should consider the outcomes of a few statewide ballot measures.

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

In fact, Colorado voters rejected most of the thirteen ballot measures at the state level. All the ballot measures proposing increased taxes and/or debt were defeated by a wide margin, including measures to fund schools and transportation. However, citizens approved a majority of the state’s local school bond issues and funding packages.

The results of these ballot measures continue a trend that began when the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment (TABOR) was ratified in 1992. TABOR requires voter approval for any increase in taxes or debt, and has proven to be the most effective state tax and spending limit in the country.  Since TABOR was adopted, very few state ballot measures calling for increased taxes or debt have been approved. However, at the local level the majority of these ballot measures have passed.

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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.

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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 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

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 13

Little-known flood-control district asks Denver metro voters for first tax hike

Little-known flood-control district asks Denver metro voters for first tax hike

Urban Drainage and Flood Control District proposes tax-restoration measure on Nov. 6 ballot

Andy Cross, The Denver Post

Greenway Foundation educator Kate Ronan, right, checks Annalena Tylicki’s net for bugs and other living creatures she collected in the South Platte River during a SPREE day camp at the restored Johnson-Habitat Park on June 9, 2015. The restoration, which included improvements to reduce flood risk, was paid for partly by the Urban Drainage and Flood Control District.

By JON MURRAY | jmurray@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

September 13, 2018 at 6:00 am

 

In an election season full of proposed tax hikes, one of the less familiar ballot measures facing voters across the Denver metro area this fall comes from a regional district that aids dozens of cities and counties in flood control.

The little-known Urban Drainage and Flood Control District hasn’t asked for an increase in its property tax since its formation nearly five decades ago. That means it has actually lost ground, with its tax rate falling by 44 percent since the early 1990s under revenue growth limits in the voter-passed Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

On the Nov. 6 ballot, the district’s Ballot Issue 7G asks voters across its jurisdiction for permission to restore its full taxing authority, as many cities, counties and other special districts have done. The district covers 1,600 square miles across Denver and all or part of Boulder, Broomfield, Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe and Douglas counties.

Next year, a partial increase is expected to generate $14.9 million. Further increases within the restored limit would be left up to the district’s board, made up of elected officials from around the region, the UDFCD says.

Once that happens, the full tax increase would raise an estimated $24 million a year, doubling the current funding level for projects and programs. The hit for the owner of a $400,000 home would be an extra $13 a year.

The flood-control district faces no organized opposition to its proposed tax increase, but it does face a big challenge: Most voters don’t know what the district is or what it does.

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