Colorado legislation could mean up to $617 million in tax and fee increases, think tank says

Bills passed during Colorado’s 2021 legislative session could result in up to a $617 million a year increase in taxes and fees depending on revenue estimates, according to a think tank analysis. 

The libertarian-leaning Independence Institute noted that the increases come without voter consent under the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which requires voter approval for all tax increases.

Ben Murrey, the think tank’s fiscal policy director, calculated that the taxes and fees result in a $430 average increase in expenses each year for a four-person family in the state.

While not all the bills have been signed into law yet, the General Assembly passed 83 bills that will increase the state’s revenue before concluding its session last week, according to the analysis, with 45 of the bills including revenue projections.

“Total new revenue raised under these bills, if signed into law, would amount to between $579 million and $617.3 million in FY2022-23,” Murrey wrote.

Murrey said lawmakers evaded TABOR with legislation raising the state’s revenue. Republican lawmakers and conservative taxpayer watchdogs have long argued that Democrats have avoided TABOR requirements by hiking fees.

“Colorado lawmakers avoided the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and Proposition 117’s voter-approval requirements primarily by increasing revenue through tax policy changes and through government fees,” he said.

Murrey noted a pair of passed bills that overhaul the state’s tax code by limiting some deductions. The bills will increase state revenue by $184.5 million after tax credits.

The fees passed during the session that will raise the most revenue for fiscal 2022-23, according to the analysis, is Senate Bill 21-260, the massive piece of legislation seeking to increase transportation funding with a bevy of new fees.

The legislation, which hasn’t been signed into law yet, will raise an estimated $3.8 billion over the next decade from fees on road use, electric vehicle registrations, retail deliveries and ride-shares, among others.

Democratic lawmakers passed the legislation rather than asking voters to raise the state’s 22 cent gas tax, Murrey noted in a separate column.

This article was originally posted on Colorado legislation could mean up to $617 million in tax and fee increases, think tank says

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