Coloradans can thank TABOR for their tax refund – Greeley Tribune

Like a lottery jackpot, Colorado’s federal revenue surplus keeps growing. And with it the refunds that will be paid back to the state’s taxpayers in the coming months. The latest news, reported in The Gazette on Wednesday, says taxpayers can expect to receive at least $750 in the mail – down from the previous estimate of $500.

That’s welcome news, of course, as the country’s economy is trending sideways amid a spiral of inflation. The $750 checks going to individual taxpayers — $1,500 for couples filing together — will be a boon to many Coloradans who are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Approximately 3.1 million Coloradans will receive a refund directly in the mail in August or September.

The hype and fanfare surrounding the refunds makes it sound like Colorado’s political leaders came up with the idea out of the blue. And from the goodness of her heart. As if they had decided all by themselves to rain manna on Colorado’s cash-strapped households.

“We’re providing real relief when Coloradans need it most,” Gov. Jared Polis said of the refunds this week.

“Everyone in our state is feeling the effects of rising costs, and I refuse to let the government sit on taxpayer money when it could make life a little easier for the people of our state.”

Wow, thanks boss! Our Democratic CEO from Boulder could have taken that line at the next Republican National Convention and felt right at home.

However, we must not forget that the state has a constitutional obligation to pay back the excess tax revenue. And while the specific means of reclaiming the excess this time, mailed checks, was approved by law this year, the rebates are ultimately the doing of Colorado voters — way back in 1992. Back then, they passed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR.

Since then, Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution requires state and local governments in Colorado to limit annual budget increases to no more than growth and inflation rates combined. Tax revenues above that rate must be returned to the public unless voters agree at the next vote that the government keeps their money.

It’s hard to overlook the irony in all of this. Make no mistake, the Democrats who wield the power levers in state government these days — and who tout election-year tax refunds like a rooster counting the sunrise — by and large loathe TABOR.

Again and again it has denied them play money with which to build governments and conjure up new programs. She and her similarly inclined predecessors in office have fought TABOR at every turn, attempting endless endruns on it for decades. In court, in the legislature, you name it.

But now, with the economy faltering and polling troubles for their party ahead of the fall midterm elections, they’re only too happy to pick the fruits of TABOR and rebrand it the Colorado Cash Back Rebate.

In fairness, Polis has set himself apart from the rest of his party on taxation, even calling for an end to state income taxes at one point. But generation after generation of its Democrats were no friends of TABOR. Or for that matter, the average Colorado taxpayer.

I’m just saying.

— The Gazette (Col. Springs) Editorial Board, June 23 Coloradans can thank TABOR for their tax refund – Greeley Tribune

James Brien

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