The Denver Post
The nonprofit TABOR Foundation is suing to stop the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District from collecting sales tax on food, beverages, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers.
The foundation filed a request for preliminary injunction Thursday in Jefferson County District Court, asking that the districts be blocked from collecting the tax starting Jan. 1, as allowed by a new state law.
House Bill 1272 lifted exemptions on items the districts could tax. Previously, sales of food, beverages, cigarettes, advertising materials and food containers were off limits to RTD and SCFD.
The tax is expected to net $2.7 million for RTD and $270,000 for SCFD next year, according to the complaint.
The TABOR Foundation — formed to protect and enforce the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a state constitutional amendment that requires a vote of the people to increase taxes — says the legislature violated TABOR by enacting a new tax without voter approval.
“The legislature seems to have forgotten there is a part of the constitution called TABOR, and we are hoping to remind them that the Taxpayer Bill of Rights does exist,” said Jim Manley, of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, which filed the complaint on behalf of the foundation.
Manley said voters should get to decide whether RTD and SCFD can expand their tax base. “All we are asking is for the voters to weigh in on this.”
Supporters say the tax is not new, but merely an expansion of the till the districts are allowed to dip into. It also simplifies the tax-collection process and makes the accounting more accurate, RTD said.
“We see it as simply aligning the tax base of the special district with the state tax base,” SCFD executive director Peg Long said.