May 21

Colorado Democrats want to use one of TABOR’s most effective tax-halting mechanisms for themselves

House Bill 1321 comes as progressives have all but given up on doing away with TABOR, the 1992 constitutional amendment that has served as a third rail in Colorado politics ever since its passage

One of the most effective parts of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights when it comes to stopping tax-raising ballot questions in Colorado is a requirement that voters be informed, IN CAPITAL LETTERS, about the eye-popping sum they are deciding whether to allow the government to collect.

“SHALL STATE TAXES BE INCREASED $766,700,000 ANNUALLY FOR A TWENTY-YEAR PERIOD?” Proposition 110, which was focused on raising money for transportation projects, scream-asked voters in 2018. (It failed.)

Now, Democrats are trying to adapt that potent TABOR transparency tool for their own purposes.

House Bill 1321, a measure introduced at the Capitol this week, would require voters to be informed of which programs would be affected by ballot questions decreasing taxes.

The legislation would require the following language be attached to tax-reducing ballot measures: “Shall funding available for state services that include, but are not limited to, (the three largest areas of program expenditures) be impacted by a reduction of (projected dollar figure of revenue reduction to the state in the first full fiscal year that the measure reduces revenue) in tax revenue…?”

The bill would also mandate that ballots containing tax questions highlight how many people in which tax brackets would be most affected by tax hikes or decreases, and require that ballot titles for tax increases state that the aim is to “increase or improve levels of public services” and then list those services.

“It’s an attempt to provide more information and level the playing field,” said Carol Hedges, who leads the liberal-leaning Colorado Fiscal Institute, which supports the measure. “Currently, the all-caps language focuses people’s attention only on the size of state government. We know that the size of state government is not the only factor people should be considering.”

Scott Wasserman, who leads the Bell Policy Center, a liberal advocacy organization, called the measure “a great idea” that seeks to offset what he sees as the manipulative aspects of TABOR.

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May 15

Colorado lawmakers introduce bills to overhaul state tax code

PROMO Government - Taxes Money Calculator Word Blocks - iStock - LIgorko
Published Friday, May 14, 2021
by Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) — Colorado lawmakers introduced a pair of bills this week that seek to overhaul the state’s tax code.

House Bill 21-1311 would revise corporate tax reporting standards, limit itemized deductions, and restrict contributions to tax-savings accounts to subsidize increases to the earned income tax credit and the state’s child tax credit.

House Bill 21-1312 would update several provisions of the state’s property tax code and also initiate a phasing-out of tax credits and exemptions for the coal industry.

Both bills are sponsored by a Democrat coalition of Sens. Chris Hansen, D-Denver, and Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, and Reps. Emily Sirota, D-Denver, and Mike Weissman, D-Aurora.

Supporters of the bills say they do three important things: increase tax fairness, close loopholes for the wealthy, and modernize the tax code.

Scott Wasserman, president of the Bell Policy Center (BPC), a left-leaning think tank, described the bills as “important” for the structural integrity of the state budget going forward.

“Politicians always talk about cleaning up the tax code, but this is one of the first attempts to really do it,” he said. “We have a structural budgetary deficit in this state. When is it going to be the right time to address it?”

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May 15

Penn Pfiffner – TABOR in the Courts (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) March 23, 2015

There has been a major battle brewing in Colorado over the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, so we brought in one of the leading authorities on the subject, Mr. Penn Pfiffner, to talk about it. After a short refresher on the form and function of TABOR (https://youtu.be/GBZOJCsuFwA), Penn discusses the current legal attacks and the defenses being offered.

Understanding TABOR is as easy as it is crucial, so load up on some intellectual ammunition so you can defend your rights as taxpayers when speaking with friends and colleagues who may be unwittingly trying to take them away.

Penn Pfiffner was an early leader and proponent of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and served as Regional Coordinator in the 1986 effort. He served on the TABOR Committee in subsequent years and is the current Chair. He led the opposition campaigns to the anti-TABOR Amendment 59 in 2008 and the tax increase proposal, Proposition 103.

Penn earned a Masters in Finance from CU-Denver. He taught college Economics part-time for thirteen years, at both graduate and undergraduate levels. He has a financial and managerial consulting practice, Construction Economics, LLC. Penn and Karen are the parents of three adult children. He is a veteran, having served as an officer in the Navy.

May 15

Movement on Kerr vs. Polis Lawsuit

During this past week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals held Oral Argument on May 10, 2021.  The case is in the appellate phase after the District Judge found that the Plaintiffs do not have standing.

For more background and details on the case, go to our web file.  The latest action of your TABOR Foundation was to join a friend-of-the-court legal argument.

May 12

Tax proposal disguised as multiple fees is all wrong

Tax proposal disguised as multiple fees is all wrong

There used to be a time when citizens thought they were in charge of their governments. The threat of ouster at the ballot box meant that elected officials were reluctant to break the rules. Apparently, no longer.

Lawmakers are considering increasing the gas tax. Colorado purchasers already pay 18 cents per gallon in state taxes alone. Legislators expect to push forward a multibillion-dollar transportation bill that raises taxes by 8 cents per gallon phased-in over several years, in addition to several other fees including on ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft and vital delivery services such as Amazon.

If the taxpayers were still in charge of the government, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) would be mandating their right to vote on whether your taxes go up.

To continue reading this Denver Post story, please click (HERE):

May 12

Federal appeals court to consider future of lawsuit over Colorado’s TABOR

Federal appeals court to consider future of lawsuit over Colorado’s TABOR

The 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires that tax increases be approved by voters

Two women walk up the steps on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, on Oct. 16, 2018. (John Ingold, The Colorado Sun)

The Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider whether a long-running lawsuit challenging Colorado’s strict tax and spending limits as unconstitutional can proceed.

Colorado Politics reports that a nine-judge panel will consider on Monday a review of the lawsuit, which was filed in 2011 by group of elected officials.

The 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires that tax increases be approved by voters. It also requires the state to refund tax revenue that exceeds a figure determined by a formula based on inflation and population growth.

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May 12

9 federal judges set to decide fate of TABOR repeal lawsuit

9 federal judges set to decide fate of TABOR repeal lawsuit

Hickenlooper submits his final state budget, but it may not last long
Exactly 10 years after a group of local and state elected officials first filed a legal challenge to Colorado’s most celebrated — and vilified — constitutional provision, the entirety of the Denver-based federal appeals court will now consider whether to pull the plug on that fight.

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which hears appeals from Colorado and five surrounding states, will hold a rare all-judges hearing, known as an “en banc” review, of the lawsuit seeking to overturn the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Although appellate courts typically issue decisions in panels of three judges, the 10th Circuit in October granted en banc review of the TABOR case.

Such hearings are highly atypical: from October 2018 through September 2019, the 10th Circuit only heard one case en banc out of more than 1,100.

There are 12 authorized judgeships on the 10th Circuit that require presidential nomination and U.S. Senate confirmation. However, only nine judges will participate in the en banc panel: five who were nominees of Democratic presidents and four who were Republican nominees.

The diminished number is the result of two Clinton administration appointees retiring from active status earlier this year. One of them, Senior Judge Mary Beck Briscoe, will join the en banc hearing. In addition, of the 10 remaining active judges, Scott M. Matheson Jr., a nominee of President Barack Obama, and Joel M. Carson III, a nominee of Donald Trump, have each recused themselves.

TABOR, a 1992 constitutional amendment, limits the amount of revenue the state can collect and spend, and requires voter approval for new taxes and tax rate increases. The amendment also provided a mechanism to refund revenue collections to taxpayers in excess of a formula based on inflation and population growth. Colorado refunded nearly $3.5 billion in the quarter-century since TABOR’s passage.

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May 12

Debunking the top 5 misleading claims about Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights experience

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  • Debate over North Carolina’s recently proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights will begin heating up soon
  • Opponents will likely try to portray Colorado’s experience in a negative light, to serve as a warning
  • Their major claims, however, are easily debunked

North Carolina legislators recently filed a bill that would enable voters to decide if a Taxpayer Bill of Rights should be added to the state constitution.

The main feature of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights is that it would limit the annual growth rate of the state budget to a rate tied to inflation plus population growth. Other provisions would require voter approval of tax increases and mandate that excess revenue collections be used to bolster the state’s Rainy Day fund and refunded back to taxpayers.

The benefits of a Taxpayer Bill of Rights are many, most notable in that it would make permanent the fiscal restraint that conservative lawmakers have exercised over the last decade. Common-sense restraints on spending can smooth out spending cycles, better prepare the state for economic downturns, and enable tax cuts to make North Carolina more competitive for investment and job growth.

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May 12

GUEST COLUMN: Family budgets beset by politician’s plans

Paul Lundeen
Paul Lundeen

There is no doubt Colorado needs to upgrade its roads and bridges. You can’t drive in El Paso County without swerving around potholes. Now that the pandemic appears to have crossed a tipping point, wait times are building again to get from Colorado Springs to Denver.

The fact that Colorado legislators are paying attention to our infrastructure problems should be a win. But SB 260 is more about building government than building roads.

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