Jun 14

Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) Should Be a Role Model for the Nation

Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) Should Be a Role Model for the Nation

A balanced budget requirement is neither necessary nor sufficient for good fiscal policy.

If you want proof for that assertion, check out states such as IllinoisCalifornia, and New Jersey. They all have provisions to limit red ink, yet there is more spending (and more debt) every year. There are also anti-deficit rules in nations such as GreeceFrance, and Italyand those countries are not exactly paragons of fiscal discipline.

The real gold standard for good fiscal policy is my Golden Rule. And the best way to make sure government doesn’t grow faster than the private sector is to have a constitutional rule limiting the growth of government.

That’s why I’m a big fan of the “debt brake” in Switzerland’s constitution and Article 107 in Hong Kong’s constitution.

And it’s also why the 49 other states, assuming they want an effective fiscal rule, should look at Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) as a role model.

Colorado’s Independence Institute has a very informative study on how TABOR works and the degree to which it has been effective. Here’s a good description of the system.

Colorado voters adopted The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 1992. TABOR allows government spending to grow each year at the rate of inflation-plus-population. Government can increase faster whenever voters consent. Likewise, tax rates can be increased whenever voters consent. …The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires that excess government revenues be refunded to taxpayers, unless taxpayers vote to let the government keep the revenue.

And here are the headline results.

Cumulatively, TABOR refunds have been over $800 per Coloradan, or $3,200 for a family of four. …If Colorado government had continued growing at the same high rate (8.56% compound annual rate) as in 1983-92, the average Coloradan would have paid an additional $442 taxes in 2012. The cumulative two-decade savings per Coloradan are $6,173—or more than $24,000 for a family of four.

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Jun 12

Potential TABOR Violation by the City of Lakewood

A TABOR fan emailed us:
“Lakewood city council wants to keep the $12 million due back to the taxpayers. Stealing is still illegal right?,”

Our President responded, “What was the source of the $12 million?
If collected by the City, what circumstances would it be due back to the taxpayers? Over-collection (that is above the TABOR limit) or something else?”

The response was, “It was on the channel 8 Lakewood City Council meeting last night. Over collection.”

Our response is as follows,
You asked about a week ago if the TABOR Committee would look into the potential diversion of funds by the City of Lakewood. Continue reading

Jun 07

Opinion: Newcomers need to know benefits of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

Opinion: Newcomers need to know benefits of Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

Jennifer Schubert-Akin and Amy Oliver Cooke
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

The latest Census Bureau data released earlier this year shows that Colorado’s population has grown by nearly two-thirds since 1992, one of the fastest increases in the country. 

If you are part of the more than two million new residents who have arrived over this time, there are a few things you should know: Avoid I-70 on Sundays. We are Coloradans, not Coloradoans. And the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is responsible for much of the state’s economic success, which likely drew you here in the first place.

Between 1992 and 2016, median household income in Colorado grew by 30 percent, adjusted for inflation. This growth was more than double the national rate over the same period. Only Minnesota and North Dakota grew by more than 30 percent over this timeframe. Colorado gained $20 billion in adjusted gross income over these years — again, one of the biggest increases in the nation. 

While many other states have struggled with stagnant incomes over this period, what’s set Colorado apart? Its Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, passed in 1992, which requires state and local governments to ask voters for permission before raising taxes or debt. 

TABOR helped end years of economic stagnation and laid the groundwork for the state’s future success by keeping resources in the hands of Colorado residents who could put them to their highest valued use and checking overzealous government spending. 

TABOR has protected pocketbooks and state solvency from legislators who believe they know how to spend your money better than you. Its requirement that excess revenues must be refunded to taxpayers has also resulted in more than $2 billion being returned to the private economy to be spent at local businesses or saved for retirement.  

 

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Apr 15

What Is TABOR? Learn More At the April 23 Road Show

WHAT IS TABOR?

For more than two decades, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) has been our constitutional guardian keeping the ruling class out of our wallets.
Politicians can raise taxes, but with TABOR, they have to ask us first.

ASK FIRST, IT’S THAT SIMPLE.

Apr 13

Join the TABOR offensive!

Join the TABOR offensive!

Join the TABOR offensive!

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is universally despised, neigh, deplored by every tax-happy progressive around the country. Ever wonder why it’s like sunlight to a vampire to them, and why they’ve weakened it in court-ruling after court-ruling for 25 years? Then please join us on Monday, April 23, in Colorado Springs for our first stop on the TABOR Road Show 2018.

There’s a growing coalition of national, state, and local TABOR supporters that won’t tolerate any more attacks on or weakening of the greatest gift Colorado voters ever gave themselves or future generations – the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and the right to vote on increases in taxes and debt. We are crisscrossing the state to let people know about the TABOR Yes coalition, some two dozen strong and growing, and why Coloradans should fall in love with TABOR again.

For additional information on TABOR and our coalition, visit our Web site TABORYes.com.

Please RSVP here!

Monday, April 23rd
5:30-7 PM

Barrel Room at IvyWild School
1604 S. Cascade Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO 80905

Local HostSpringsTaxpayers.com
Emcee: Jeff Crank, The Jeff Crank Show
Moderator: Amy Oliver Cooke, Independence Institute

Panelists:
Michael Fields, Americans for Prosperity Foundation
Jon Caldara, Independence Institute
Hadley Heath Manning, Independent Women’s Forum (invited)

Supported by the
TABOR YES COALITION

Americans for Prosperity- Colorado
Americans for Tax Reform
America’s House of Commons
Americhicks
Approval Voting
Arapahoe Tea Party
CATO Institute
Centennial Institute
Center for Freedom Prosperity
Coalition to Reduce Spending
Colorado Issues Coalition
Colorado Log Cabin Republicans
Colorado Union of Taxpayers
Independence Institute
Independent Women’s Forum
Mountain States Legal Foundation
National Asian Indian Republican Association
Reagan Republicans
Republican Liberty Caucus Colorado
SpringsTaxpayers.com
Taxpayers Chamber of Commerce
Taxpayers Protection Alliance
The Hudson Firm
The Steamboat Institute
Wake Up with Randy Corporon (710 KNUS)
Kelsey M. Alexander
Barbara Piper
Dennis Polhill
Geri Zahner

Join the TABOR offensive!

Apr 11

Study: Colorado has sixth lowest tax burden in U.S.

Study: Colorado has sixth lowest tax burden in U.S.

FILE - Denver, CO
Denver, Colorado

jackanerd | Shutterstock.com

Colorado’s state and local tax burden was the sixth lowest in the U.S. in fiscal 2016, according to a recent report produced Key Policy Data (KPD), a joint venture between Public Choice Analytics and Visigov.

The report relies on an income-based analysis dividing the state’s total tax collections by its private sector personal income. The national average using this methodology was an overall local and state tax burden of 14.3 percent of income; Colorado’s was 11.8.

KPD compared the burden of tax systems across states by measuring tax collections against the size of the economy. It defines this as the “total private sector share of personal income, which is personal income minus government compensation and personal current transfer receipts” such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

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Apr 11

Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights Should Be a Model for All States

Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights Should Be a Model for All States

by Heather Madden

In 1992, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) Amendment was adopted by Colorado voters to limit government growth and to put Coloradans in control of tax and debt increases. Under TABOR, the state and local government cannot raise taxes or increase the debt without voter approval.

TABOR is unique to Colorado. Currently, no other state in the union has a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

There are important reasons why TABOR is not only justifiable, but necessary.

  1. More Democratic – Referendums are a more democratic way to make decisions on government spending. When it comes to raising taxes or increasing the debt, voters, not legislators—who may be beholden to outside interests—should have the final say. After all, taxpayers are ultimately the ones on the hook for tabs run up by the state. Remember the whole “No taxation without representation” thing? This is about the consent of the governed, a principle so important… it sparked the U.S. Revolution.
  1. Financial Freedom –Under TABOR, lawmakers lack the power to impose higher taxes without consent from the voters. As Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, put it:

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Apr 06

Lawmakers Are Close To A New State Budget. Here’s Where Money Is And Isn’t Going

Colorado lawmakers have all but signed off on the biggest budget in state history. The $28.9 billion spending plan invests taxpayer dollars in roads, schools and the state’s troubled pension fund.

Unlike in previous years, lawmakers had a $1.3 billion surplus to split between their different priorities. The extra money is thanks to a booming a economy and the federal tax reform package, according to state economists. While a surplus has eased tensions among lawmakers jockeying for priorities, it also has them scrambling for the extra dollars.

The Senate added a number of changes to the budget Wednesday night. The chamber is scheduled to take a final vote on it’s version this week before a bipartisan committee begins ironing differences with the House version. The deadline for final passage is the end of next week. Here’s where the money is — and isn’t — headed.

No TABOR Refund

In Coloradothe Taxpayers’ Bill Of Rights limits the amount of money lawmakers can spend before they have to supply refunds to taxpayers. Lawmakers don’t expect to hit the TABOR cap over the next fiscal year, so Coloradans won’t be getting a refund check next year. Part of the reason for that has to do with a major financial compromise struck last year. It recategorized a fee paid by hospitals, which created room for spending beneath the TABOR limit.

Fix Roads And Bridges

The budget allocates $495 billion for one-time spending on road projects. That’s a fraction of the $9 billion the Colorado Department of Transportation says it needs to modernize transportation infrastructure around the state. But the spending is in line with a request from the governor and a compromise transportation bill approved in the Senate last week. That plan would use the money to buy time for voters to consider a citizen initiative in November to raise sales taxes for road funding. If that fails, the compromise would trigger another initiative asking voters for new transportation bonds in 2019. Continue reading

Jan 12

County faces lawsuit over 2012 sheriff’s tax 

County faces lawsuit over 2012 sheriff’s tax

A sales tax funds nearly a quarter of the Sheriff’s Office staff. - PAM ZUBECK

  • Pam Zubeck
  • A sales tax funds nearly a quarter of the Sheriff’s Office staff.

A version of this story first appeared on the Indy‘s news blog, The Wire.

When El Paso County asked voters in 2012 to impose a .23 percent sales tax to fund the Sheriff’s Office, the ballot question said the new tax would raise “approximately $17 million” annually.

Turns out, it raised $17,898,721 in the first year and even more every year since. But the county hasn’t made a move to either lower the tax or refund the extra money.

Now, anti-taxer Douglas Bruce wants to force the issue. He filed a lawsuit on Dec. 26 seeking a refund to taxpayers of that roughly $900,000, with 10 percent interest per year for four years, and a reduction in the tax rate to prevent future excess collections.

That’s what he says is required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a state constitutional amendment that Bruce authored, which was adopted by voters in 1992. TABOR states that if a tax increase generates revenue that exceeds an estimate contained in the election notice ballot measure, the tax rate must be lowered in subsequent years and the excess refunded in the next fiscal year.

“They are only supposed to get whatever they asked for,” Bruce says, noting in the lawsuit that TABOR provisions were designed to “prevent government from ‘lowballing’ the true cost of what it requests in order to lure voters to support it.” Continue reading

Nov 12

Opinion: The building blocks of TABOR

(Consider where the author is sitting before you evaluate where he is standing and espousing in his editorial–editor)

Opinion: The building blocks of TABOR

Say you had a box with a plant growing inside it. For reasons dark and twisted, the plant finds itself quite content to grow inside the black confines of the box. It gains inch after inch each week. Eventually, the plant runs out of room to grow but the box is a box. It can’t grow with the plant. The plant, doomed by its own prodigiousness, grows too big for its cramped home and crushes itself against the six walls of its cardboard prison.

TABOR

Courtesy of tookapic at Pixabay

So, what do plants and Colorado’s economy have in common? While I grant that it is a little melodramatic, I think it’s also an apt metaphor for the situation imposed by Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

In 1992, Colorado voters approved adding an amendment to Colorado’s constitution that put a cap on how much revenue the state is allowed to collect through taxes. It also requires the state to authorize any new taxes directly through voters by means of a referendum process. Any amount above the cap is refunded to taxpayers. This mechanism allows me to feed into an unhealthy obsession with Legos every year, as my tax return checks can be quite generous. However, at the same time Colorado’s constitution has a requirement in it that requires the state to increase education spending to keep pace with inflation.

One great way to think of both tax and spending mechanisms is to think of TABOR as the brake and Amendment 23 as the gas. TABOR limits government growth and spending while Amendment 23 keeps a steady drip of cash flowing into government expenditures.

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