Colorado Democrats seek to bypass TABOR refunds

Source: Colorado Legislative Council; Graphic: John Frank / Axios

Colorado is preparing to pay back $ 4.1 billion to taxpayers over the next four years, new projections show.

Inventory: Whether this is a good thing remains to be debated among state legislators.

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What is happening: Democratic lawmakers and liberal supporters are renewing their efforts to bypass the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and retain excess tax revenue, saying the money is needed to help the state recover from the pandemic and improve education.

  • The first talks involve withdrawing some income from the books.

  • Another possibility is to ask voters to keep the money through a voting measure.

What they say : “This coming year, taxpayers will see rebate checks, but these will come at the expense of better funding for public services that lower costs for all of us,” said Les Sens. Chris Hansen and Dominick Moreno, both Democratic budget writers, wrote in a recent opinion piece.

The other side: Governor Jared Polis, a Democrat, applauds the refunds, saying they are a sign of a good economy.

TABOR’s conservative supporters blame Democrats for wanting to keep the money.

  • “Colorado voters have said time and time again they want their TABOR refunds, ”said Jesse Mallory, Colorado director of Americans for Prosperity, a limited government group. “The legislature should not ignore the will of the voters and look for loopholes to keep them. “

How it works: Under TABOR, the constitutional amendment approved by voters, Colorado’s tax revenues cannot exceed the rate of inflation plus population growth. When they do, the surplus must go to taxpayers, unless the voters allow the government to spend the money.

The amount of the excess determines how it is repaid.

In numbers : Repayments will total $ 471.4 million this year. The sales tax refund is $ 69 for single filers and $ 166 for joint filers, while the magnitude of the tax reduction is not yet known.

  • The money will come when taxpayers file 2021 state taxes by next April.

  • In the coming years, TABOR repayments are only expected to increase to more than $ 1 billion per year, according to legislative economists.

What to watch: For years, Democratic lawmakers have explored ways to eliminate TABOR refunds, but Colorado voters have rejected a 2019 voting measure to eliminate them.

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