Colorado’s state tax rate near bottom of nation |

Colorado’s state tax rate near bottom of nation

BOULDER ” Colorado collects fewer state taxes per person than all states except South Dakota and Texas, Census Bureau figures show.

Colorado gets about $1,532 per person, about half the amount collected by top-ranked Hawaii.

Coloradans pay more city and county taxes than people of many other states, but the overall tax burden per person still ranks near the bottom in the nation, according to statistics compiled by area economists.

They say that is partly to blame for Colorado’s fiscal crisis.

Natalie Mullis, an economist with the nonpartisan Colorado Legislative Council Staff, said the problem is compounded by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a voter-approved constitutional amendment that limits the growth in state and local taxes and spending.

Revenue in excess of TABOR’s limits is considered surplus and must be refunded to taxpayers.

In 1999, with the economy surging, TABOR refunds got so large that lawmakers decided to cut tax rates. The boom was followed by a recession that reduced tax revenue and forced about $2 billion in state spending cuts.

The economy is recovering, but TABOR’s limits on revenue growth have restricted lawmakers’ ability to restore some of the programs they cut during the recession.

Voters will be asked in November to allow the state to keep $3.1 billion of the TABOR surplus over five years to avoid deeper cuts and to restore some programs.

“Colorado can never catch up to where we used to be,” said House Majority Leader Alice Madden, D-Boulder. “We used to have one of the best economies in the nation. Now we have one of the worst, because of TABOR.”

State Treasurer Mike Coffman said he doesn’t think the state tax rates are too low, but he does support allowing the government to keep some of the TABOR refunds.

“It is the lack of revenue that the state can retain,” Coffman said. “We need to reform that side of the equation.”

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