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)

Feb 15

TABOR And Taxes Have A Big Impact On Seniors In Colorado.

TABOR is a friend to Colorado seniors

TABOR and taxes have a big impact on seniors in Colorado. TABOR is one of the best friends to seniors in Colorado because it limits the growth of government spending (unless approved by Colorado voters) which, in turn, reduces the need for more taxation. In addition, there are other laws that benefit Colorado taxpayers 55 and older who get a $20,000 retirement income exclusion from state taxes, and the exclusion reaches $24,000 when they reach 65. Seniors may qualify for this exemption of up to 50% of the first $200,000 of property value if they’ve lived in the same house for 10 years. In the November 2000 election, Colorado voters passed a Property Tax Exemption for seniors, known as Referendum A.  It is called the Homestead Exemption Act.

Conversely, a big downside for retirees is that Colorado’s sales taxes (which have a local component) are on the high side and can exceed 11% in some parts of the state. Seniors need to be vigilant about local sales tax increase proposals and local property tax increase proposals that are relentless in requesting more money. Local governments and special districts frequently attempt to elude TABOR restrictions by de-Brucing. As a result, local government tax growth often exceeds the state tax growth rate. Colorado taxpayers have rejected over 20 statewide tax increases since the TABOR amendment to the Colorado Constitution was approved by the voters in 1992. Seniors should oppose de-Brucing efforts at the local level to preserve the TABOR provisions.

Income Tax Range

Excepting the plains, the only thing that is flat in Colorado is the income tax rate. Colorado became a flat tax state in 1987 and has a flat income tax rate of 4.55% (the approval of Proposition 116, which appeared on the November 2020 ballot, reduced the rate from 4.63% to 4.55%). TABOR limits how much its revenue can grow from year-to-year by lowering the tax rate if revenue growth is too high. For example, in 2019, this resulted in a rate reduction to 4.5%. Colorado is only one of nine states in the US with a flat income tax. The others are Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Utah. Only Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have a lower flat tax than Colorado. However, none of these states have a taxpayer’s bill of rights (TABOR) like Colorado does.

Denver and a few other cities in Colorado also impose a monthly payroll tax.

Taxation of Social Security Benefits
Up to $24,000 of Social Security benefits taxed by the federal government, along with other retirement income, can be excluded for Colorado income tax purposes ($20,000 for taxpayers 55 to 64 years old). The exclusion is capped at $20,000 or $24,000 (dependent upon age) regardless of what retirement income is applied. In other words, if a taxpayer has Social Security income, IRA income, and pension income, the cap limits restrict the total exclusion to $20,000/$24,000.

Continue reading

Feb 12

Petition For Writ Of Certiorari To The Colorado Supreme Court

In regards to the lawsuit we filed to overturn the Hospital Provider tax and the subsequent abomination of SB267, we are in the phase of appealing to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The motions the Court is considering from the Court of Appeals ruling is that none of us has standing to bring these matters before legal review. That means that discussion of the facts of the dispute are not being addressed. Unlike the appellate level, the Supreme Court does not have to accept the case for review.

Our attorneys at Cause of Action filed the petition on time, as we are the petitioners.
The Respondents (The State of Colorado, Colorado Department of Health Care Financing, Colorado Healthcare Affordability and Sustainability Enterprise, Kim Bimestefer, Colorado Department of the Treasury, and Dave Young) filed a Reply brief on January 28th arguing that since none of us pay the bed tax (not true) that the Supreme Court should not take up the case (or any of the substantive issues including $400 million of new taxing authority).

The last action was Lee Steven writing a reply with his reasoned, thorough, and direct arguments, that we certainly have standing for all the other issues which Defendants ignored, and also that we have standing on the tax vs. fee question that started it all.

I believe that we are indeed fortunate to have such an excellent, skilled professional working on our behalf.

All three written arguments referenced in the preceding paragraph are attached for your perusal, as well as posted on the TABOR website (http://thetaborfoundation.org/lega…/hospital-provider-tax/).

Finally, here’s a response from our local legal counsel, William Banta:
“There should be no more replies, responses, or rebuttals.
The next step should be the Supreme Court’s decision, either granting or denying our request for certiorari (reconsideration of the Court of Appeals decision).”

Penn Pfiffner,
Chairman of the Board of Directors, TABOR Foundation

Feb 04

Colorado taxpayers will be asked for more…

Colorado taxpayers will be asked for more…

As tax season is upon us, there are several considerations worth examining about how Colorado is doing. Colorado, like most states, faces fiscal challenges arising from COVID and the lockdowns. Colorado has one of the most expensive states for real estate and the recent Gallagher vote could result in higher residential property tax burdens for Coloradans in the years to come. The Colorado state pension system (PERA) has one of the worst funding ratios in the nation, suggesting PERA funding shortfalls will present problems for Colorado taxpayers and PERA beneficiaries in the years to come. Further, a low funding ratio could result in credit rating downgrades leading to higher borrowing costs for the state. Colorado has about 25% of the population on Medicaid. This could present significant challenges for the Colorado taxpayers in years to come. There will be calls for more taxes and fees to meet the desires of the Colorado legislature.

Here are several sites for referencing how Colorado fiscally compares to the nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dec 07

Can voters ignore the state constitution when passing an initiative?

The Other Arizona Election Challenge

Can voters ignore the state constitution when passing an initiative?

By  The Editorial Board

Dec. 6, 2020 5:43 pm ET

Voters wait in line at the Surprise Court House polling location in Surprise, Arizona, Nov. 3.

PHOTO: CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

 

The outcome of the presidential race isn’t the only election result being contested in Arizona, and the other has even greater consequences for the law. Last week two lawsuits were filed against Proposition 208, the ballot initiative that imposes a new 3.5% tax surcharge to raise an estimated $827 million for education. It passed with 51.7% of the vote.

The suits are challenging whether Prop 208, which passed as a statute, must conform to the state constitution. One suit was filed by businesswoman Ann Siner and retired judge John Buttrick, the other by the Goldwater Institute, the influential Arizona think tank.

The suits claim that Prop 208 contradicts a constitutional amendment that limits the amount of revenue provided to school districts each year. It also overrides another constitutional provision requiring a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to approve a tax increase.

The Legislative Council, a nonpartisan legislative office that reviews bills and ballot measures for form and constitutionality, held that Prop 208’s language exempting the money it raises from an existing cap on education spending “is likely invalid” because it violates express constitutional limits. Supporters went ahead anyway. The state Supreme Court declined to rule on claims that Prop 208 unconstitutionally curtails the Legislature’s authority but said it couldn’t consider the issue until it passed.

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

Will You Make A Difference?

Featured

Dear TABOR supporter,

You may be the right person to make a difference in your town.  You can help to protect the citizens of Colorado by protecting the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, but without taking a lot of your time and at no expense to you.

Much of the work of the TABOR Foundation includes taking legal action against taxation without a vote of the people.

But most of our efforts are directed toward educating voters about why the right to vote on the taxes that you and your neighbors pay is a good idea – as well as calling attention to the all-too-common attempts to eviscerate TABOR.

You can help!

We are recruiting TABOR supporters to be a part of our volunteer Communications Team.

The job is simple but very important. Continue reading

Jul 22

Voting at a time when voting makes sense!

Voting at a time when voting makes sense!

July 2020

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) includes good government provisions that improve election procedures.

We know that voter turnout is highest for those people who will benefit most directly by the ballot measure.  One way to suppress voter participation is to hold an election at an unusual time or at an unexpected, inconvenient, or difficult time.

Before the Taxpayer‘s Bill of Rights, Colorado elected officials could schedule a special election for a new tax or for a debt measure.  Held in, say, February, the government could hope weather to be really foul, so that even the average taxpayer who thought to vote on the measure might think twice, while those proponents who would benefit from the new tax would be in the majority for whom it was worth the effort to slog to the polls.

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights ended that incivility to the citizen.  With TABOR, a vote must happen on the November general election ballot, or if there is a standard election in the spring, (common for many town and city elections) the measure can appear on that municipal ballot.  The only other time a TABOR measure may go before the voters is in odd-numbered years at about the time in November that a general election would take place.

Colorado constitution (Article X, Section 20) paragraph 3(a) states:  “Ballot issues shall be decided in a state general election, biennial local district election, or on the first Tuesday in November of odd-numbered years.”

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights greatly improved government operations beyond providing the taxpayer the power to vote on tax increases.

#TABOR
#ItsYourMoneyNotTheirs
#ThankGodForTABOR
#VoteOnTaxesAndFees
#WhyTABORMatters

 

 

 

May 28

TABOR Emergency Taxes at the State level

TABOR Emergency Taxes at the State level

Emergency taxes are a contingency written into the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  In response to the decline in revenues due to the pandemic economic shutdown, activists on the Left are urging new and higher taxes using the emergency taxes clause.  Unfortunately, the General Assembly has put itself into an impossible situation that will prevent the imposition of any State emergency taxes.  Legislators’ dishonest dealings in good times removes this option today. Continue reading

May 28

From An Editorial On May 5, 2019: State Could Go Off A Fiscal Cliff

State could go off a fiscal cliff

By: Barry W Poulson
May 5, 2019

Colorado has created a fiscal cliff; the state is woefully unprepared for the revenue shortfall that will accompany the next recession. Citizens might be surprised to learn that the state has been pursuing imprudent policies that will result in a fiscal crisis when the next recession hits. It is important to understand how the fiscal cliff was created and what we can do about it.

Over the past two decades, Colorado has weakened the fiscal constraints imposed by the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights. TABOR limits the rate of growth in state spending to the sum of inflation plus population growth, regardless of the amount of revenue the state takes in.

But most state revenue is exempt from the TABOR limit. The exempt funds include the revenue from enterprises and the fees collected by government agencies, which have grown rapidly over this period. As a result, over the past decade TABOR has not constrained the growth in spending, and this year the state will spend virtually every dollar of revenue it takes in.

The fiscal cliff is also linked to a rapid growth in debt and unfunded liabilities. While limits are imposed on general obligation debt, there are no limits on the issuance of revenue bonds. These are bonds with a dedicated stream of revenue used to pay off the bonds over time. As state enterprises have grown they have saddled the state with greater debt burdens.

Increasing debt is also incurred in the form of unfunded liabilities. Despite the recent reforms enacted in the Public Employees Retirement Association, unfunded liabilities continue to increase. The official estimate of these unfunded liabilities is $32 billion; but with realistic assumptions regarding rates returns on assets, the actual unfunded liabilities are estimated to be in excess of $100 billion. Continue reading