The Taxpayers Bill of Rights is many things. It gives voters the right to approve tax increases yet sometimes requires them to approve the same tax, say on recreational pot, not one but three times. It caps how much money the state can bring in and also how much it can spend. That means in fiscal fat years every dollar that moves through “fee for service” programs like those for special driver’s licenses or concealed-carry permits means one less dollar the state has in its General Fund to pay for schools, prisons and roads.
With the economy bouncing back from the recession, Coloradans can expect to see TABOR-mandated refunds on their returns next year. But the refunds rankle many in state government, particularly because the intricacies of TABOR have created a situation in which the state is required to return tax money even while K-12 funding hasn’t recovered from recession-era cuts.
Today the House gave bipartisan approval to a bill that would let taxpayers decide for themselves if they want to keep their share of the refund simply by checking a box on their state tax returns.
“The average TABOR refund is estimated to be $10,” said one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, in a release.
“That may not seem like much to the average Colorado household, but if you multiply it by tens of thousands of taxpayers, the checkoff could be a significant source of funding for essential state services.”
Co-sponsor Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, said K-12 education and transportation funding are at the top of the TABOR wish-list.
HB 1374 bill now heads to the Senate.
Image by Tessa Cheek.