Apr 16

2021 Colorado Legislature: Bigger Government, Smaller Us

By Christine Burtt, TABOR Foundation Board Member
4/13/2021

 

There are several onerous pieces of legislation in Colorado this year that will negatively impact your standard of living, if not your way of life.

Here are three notable examples.

 

  • HB21-1083, the so-called “Don’t dare to challenge the government’s valuation on your home” bill, was designed to create a chilling effect on homeowners questioning the assessment that calculates their property tax.

 

The bill, which has been signed into law by Governor Polis, was initiated by the Colorado Assessors. It changes existing law that prevented a county assessor from raising taxes on a property if the homeowner challenged an assessment. The previous law gave homeowners an appeals process if they believed their property had been assessed at a value higher than was warranted.

, with the new law, if you challenge the valuation set by the county assessor, the assessor may keep the valuation as stated, or may even increase your property tax. It won’t go down. Continue reading

Apr 06

State-Based Policy Groups Launch New Coalition to Oppose Gas Tax Proposal

State-Based Policy Groups Launch New Coalition to Oppose Gas Tax Proposal

APR 6, 2021 BY AFP

Battle Intensifies After Introduction of Framework, Initial Coalition Expands

 DENVER – Americans for Prosperity-Colorado (AFP-CO) and partners formally launch the Colorado Taxpayers Coalition, a group of local advocacy partners set out to protect Colorado taxpayers by defeating the legislature’s current gas tax proposal and protecting the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

AFP-CO is also running a statewide campaign that urges Coloradans to contact their elected official to advise against the bill. These efforts included a poll that revealed constituents in several state senate districts strongly oppose the proposal.

 AFP-CO State Director Jesse Mallory issued the following statement: Continue reading

Mar 26

Millions more for Colorado K-12 schools? Lawmakers seek court opinion first.

Current Colorado lawmakers want to slowly increase local school district property taxes without a vote. They say it doesn’t violate the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights because a generation ago voters agreed to higher rates and state officials improperly lowered them.

Kellee Nolke talks to her kindergarten class at University Elementary School, 6525 W 18th St, in Greeley in 2019. (Joshua Polson, Special to The Colorado Sun)

This story was originally published by Chalkbeat Colorado. More at chalkbeat.org.

Democratic lawmakers are asking the Colorado Supreme Court to decide whether a proposed tax change that could generate millions for K-12 education is constitutional.

Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights typically requires voter approval for tax increases. This proposal would gradually increase local school district property taxes without a vote under the premise that voters a generation ago agreed to higher rates and that state officials improperly lowered them.

On Friday, after giving initial approval to a bill to phase in higher local tax rates over 19 years, senators took the unusual step of sending what’s called an interrogatory seeking the opinion of the state’s highest court. Republicans Sen. Kevin Priola of Brighton and Bob Rankin of Carbondale joined Democrats in what was otherwise a party-line vote on the resolution.

Supporters hope to get a clear answer before the end of the legislative session and include the prospect of additional revenue in the 2021-22 budget. New local taxes would generate more than $90 million next year and could bring in the equivalent of around $288 million a year when they’re fully implemented.

Supporters believe previous case law indicates the court would agree with their interpretation. Legal experts have said the decision could go either way.

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

Mar 18

Here are the new gas and road-usage fees behind Colorado Democrats’ $4 billion transportation plan

The new fees would start in July 2022 to pay for infrastructure projects, efforts to improve air quality and public transportation initiatives

With Pikes Peak looming in the distance, traffic flows along Federal Boulevard in Westminster on May 13, 2020. (Andy Colwell, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Colorado drivers would begin paying a new fee of 2 cents on every gallon of gas they purchase starting in July 2022 under legislation Democratic state lawmakers are expected to introduce in the coming weeks.

That fee, which would not require voter approval, would increase to 8 cents per gallon starting in July 2028 under the proposal, which is part of a $4 billion, 11-year effort to raise and spend money for badly needed transportation projects across the state.

Lawmakers, political groups and business interests have been trying for years, without much luck, to find a transportation funding solution. The proposal, which includes a number of other new road-usage fees, is backed by Gov. Jared Polis and also aims to reduce traffic congestion on Colorado’s roads, expand public transportation and improve air quality by making it easier for people to own electric vehicles and spending millions on environmental initiatives.

“We think this is the time that we absolutely have to get something done and something meaningful,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, a Boulder Democrat. “Not a baby step, but a real meaningful step toward solving the transportation problems that we have in our state.”

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

Mar 18

New Real Estate Transfer Taxes Are Not Allowed

New Real Estate Transfer Taxes Are Not Allowed

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights includes provisions beyond the required citizen vote on new or higher taxes.

Real estate purchases have much higher values than purchases of consumables.  Purchasers of consumables such as household goods and of durable goods such as appliances and cars must pay a sales tax.  Governments have looked hungrily at real estate purchases as possible sources of taxation, salivating over taking a portion of the value each time there is a sale.

That’s a bad idea.

Our Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is comprehensive enough to prevent any government (“district”) from even proposing to add this type of tax.  Because TABOR is written into the state constitution, any government would first have to initiate a statewide vote to overturn this provision before a new tax scheme could even be considered.

There are just a few existing real estate transfer taxes, which were “grandfathered in” upon the 1992 passage of TABOR.  There is a trivially small (.0001) statewide tax, mislabeled a “document fee,” for each sale.  It was initially imposed just to provide an indication of sale price.  There are 12 municipalities that have long-standing transfer taxes, all in the mountains and on the Western Slope.  In addition to a prohibition of new transfer taxes, no rate increase is allowed for any existing transfer tax.  For more detailed information, follow this link: http://thetaborfoundation.org/colorado-real-estate-transfer-taxes/

Colorado constitution (Article X, Section 20), paragraph 8(a) states:  “New or increased transfer tax rates on real property are prohibited.”

The provision was included within the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights as an additional protection for citizens.  A specific real estate sale might go forward in Colorado, when it otherwise might not quite reach the buyer’s threshold with the additional burden of an onerous transfer tax.

New Real Estate Transfer Taxes Are Not Allowed

Mar 18

Colorado Real Estate Transfer Taxes

Colorado real estate transfer taxes

  1. State Documentary “Fee” (real estate transfer tax)

Upon the transfer (conveyance) of real property, a state statute gives all Colorado counties the power to collect a real estate transfer tax.  The authorization is found in Colorado Revised Statute 39-13-101 et seq.

Each county assessor is responsible for determining the actual value of any property.  The purpose of this real estate transfer tax is stated in the controlling statute’s legislative declaration as helping to establish what that market value is.  To do so, the assessor’s office needs to maintain a continuing record of the total price paid by purchasers.

The tax is calculated at one penny for every $100 of the purchase price (.01 percent[1]).  As an example, a house selling for $450,000 would see imposed a transfer tax of $45.  Values of real estate under $500 are excluded.

(An additional charge to cover the cost of processing the recorded document may be added to the tax so that the total “doc fee” shown on a closing form is likely higher than the tax.)

The tax is imposed upon transfer of all residential, commercial or other real property.  There are a few exceptions, the primary one being that no government (federal, state or local) must pay the tax, although it must show the purchase price on the recoded document.  Another important exception is the transfer of inherited property.

The law directs the tax be collected when the real estate transfer is to be recorded at the county’s clerk & recorder’s office.  The tax is accepted by the clerk’s office and deposited by the county treasurer to be used as general fund revenue for the county.

The law creating this tax was passed in 1963.  It has not been modified since.

 

  1. Local transfer taxes

There are 12 different towns in the mountains / Western Slope that impose real estate transfer taxes.  These were extant at the passage of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights in 1992 and so were “grandfathered in.”  The towns with the tax are shown in the accompanying table.

The constitutional provision created a statewide prohibition on the creation of new transfer taxes or the increase of existing transfer taxes

Towns with authority to impose a real estate transfer tax

 

Town Percentage of purchase price
Aspen 1.5  **
Avon 2.0
Breckenridge 1.0
Crested Butte 3.0
Frisco 1.0
Gypsum 1.0
Minturn 1.0
Ophir 4.0
Snowmass Village 1.0
Telluride 3.0
Vail 1.0
Winter Park 1.0

 

There was no state law governing the adoption of local transfer taxes.  All towns and cities on the list are home rule municipalities and they adopted their real estate transfer taxes pursuant to their constitutional authority under Article XX to do so as a matter of local concern.  This explains why only municipalities, not counties, have legacy transfer taxes that predate the prohibition created in the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

** Actually, two separate taxes totaling 1.5%: Wheeler Opera House RETT 0.5%; Housing RETT 1.0%, and the first $100K is deducted prior to applying the HRETT

This synopsis was written by Penn R. Pfiffner in February 2021.  The author wishes to recognize the assistance of the Colorado Municipal League, which supplied the rates in the table and added language about home rule.

[1] See 39-13-102 paragraph 2(b)

Mar 16

Denver, Colorado Sales Taxes Increased Without Voter Consent

Denver’s 2021 budget reveals that the city expects to collect $14 million in new sales tax revenues this year by taking advantage of a 2018 United States Supreme Court ruling for the first time. The State of Colorado began collecting new sales tax revenues under the same scheme in 2019.

These tax increases have come without voter consent, raising the question of whether sales tax rates should be lowered to offset the increases.

Key Takeaways

  • A 2018 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allows states and local governments to mandate that out-of-state retailers collect sales taxes from residents when selling online.
  • Denver and the State of Colorado have both created a substantial tax windfalls for themselves after promulgating new tax rules to take advantage of the ruling.
  • The state brought in $80 million in new sales tax revenue in FY 2019-20 as a result of the new rules. Denver projects a $14 million increase in sales tax revenue this year as a result of its changes.
  • Both Denver and the state skirted TABOR. The burden of the new taxes falls on residents, but the changes did not appear on the ballot for voter approval.
  • The new rules effected a tax revenue increase by expanding the sales tax base. Denver should consider offsetting this base increase by decreasing its sales tax rate.

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

Mar 12

Colorado’s Competitiveness: The Challenge of Economic Recovery Under More than $1.8 Billion in New Regulations, Taxes and Fees

Prior to 2020 and the global economic and cultural upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado stood out for having strong economic growth and offering a desirable lifestyle. Coloradans had created the #1 state economy and enjoyed competitive advantages in attracting business growth and an educated workforce. In fact, in late 2019, US News World Report ranked Colorado’s business climate as one of the best in the nation.

However, after two periods of negative economic shocks in 2020, in both late spring and through the holidays, the state of business in Colorado remains under duress.

  • There were 150,000 fewer jobs in Colorado in December 2020 relative to the start of the years, representing a 5.4% cut.[i] While the statewide reduction is significant, it masks the disproportionate impacts across industries, as the leisure and hospitality industry was down 90,900 jobs by end of 2020, whereas professional and business services was up 7,100 jobs.[ii]
  • State taxable sales were down $8.9B, or -1.35%, in 2020 relative to 2019.[iii] Small business suffered, especially. As of February 10th, small business revenue was down 29.5% from January 2020 levels.[iv]
  • Colorado’s unemployment rate increased by the 2nd-most among all states, from 2.5% to 8.5%. The Colorado state unemployment ranking went from near first (4th) to almost last (48th).[v]

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