Giving the middle class more TABOR refund

TABOR impact NO impact

This article is part of our look at potential refunds from the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights. Learn more about how TABOR works here.

Title: SB15-001 Excess State Revenues Refund Mechanism

Sponsors: Sen. Bill Cadman (R-Colorado Springs)

Status: Introduced and assigned to the Senate Finance committee on Jan. 7. The Finance Committee referred an amended version of the bill to the Appropriations Committee on May 4. The Appropriations Committee referred an amended version of the bill to the whole Senate that day. The Senate passed its third reading of the bill on May 5. The bill was then introduced in the House, where the House Finance Committee killed the bill.

What the bill would have done: Changes the mechanism for refunding TABOR surpluses to the public by doing away with the temporary income tax reduction and simplifying the structure of the sales tax refund.

How it would have affected your refund: This bill doesn't take money from the TABOR surplus, so for the average taxpayer, there's no change. But for an individual taxpayer, there's possibly big changes.

If you aren't a full time resident of Colorado, or you pay corporate income tax, you won't be getting a TABOR refund anymore. If you're a full time resident, how much you get now will be determined by whether you earn less than $36,600, more than $117,100 or somewhere in between.

As amended, the bill would not effect the size of refund checks, but does significantly change where the money in those checks would come from. Under the current system, refund checks are paid entirely from taxes that have already been collected over the TABOR cap. This bill would instead base a portion of the refund on predicted future revenues the state expects to collect above the limit. The goal is to essentially rebate excess taxes before the public pays them.

What's being said about this bill:

John Frank on Jan. 8, writing for The Denver Post:

It’s a big one. The measure would change how the state awards refunds under the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights — essentially shifting who gets the most money back when the state exceeds its TABOR revenue cap.

John Frank on May 6, writing for The Denver Post:

For the Senate Republican leader, his bill went off course with a significant rewrite at the eleventh hour. The changes amounted to a poison pill in the minds of Democrats, who pulled their support because the bill jeopardized a tax credit for the working poor and relied on fiscal forecasts, not actual tax collections.

"It distresses me to see to see that here, 119 days (after introduction), that we're changing it," said Sen. Andy Kerr, a Lakewood Democrat. "We have this great idea, everyone comes together, and then, four months later, 'Oh, nevermind.' "