Lawmakers consider tax breaks
February 17, 2008
DENVER – State lawmakers consider two tax breaks this week, one aimed at helping the smallest of small businesses.Businesses, large and small, have long complained of Colorado’s business personal property tax, money they have to pay each year on everything from equipment like chairs and computers to inventory on their shelves. Tony Gagliardi, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business, compares it to buying a new living room set and having to pay a tax on it every year it’s in your house.Lawmakers have resisted giving up the money. This year Gov. Bill Ritter has proposed a modest change he says will help 30,400 businesses.Currently, businesses with less than $2,500 in equipment or inventory don’t have to pay the tax. Ritter’s proposal, set for a hearing Tuesday, would gradually increase the exemption to $7,000 by 2011 (House Bill 1225).Gagliardi said it would help very small businesses, including many home-based ventures.”Any incremental steps, even if we have to start with baby steps, are welcomed,” he said.Gagliardi hopes the proposal leads to a bigger discussion about the state’s tax structure. Businesses pay about four times as much in property taxes than residential owners because of a voter-approved constitutional amendment.The House Finance Committee also is considering abandoning the “flyaway” sales tax (House Bill 1277) charged on airplane purchases by residents from out of state. Those buyers usually also have to pay a separate registration fee in their home states. Matt Cheroutes, a spokesman for the state economic development office, said getting rid of the tax will help Colorado’s existing airplane makers and lure new ones to the state.Also this week:- State lawmakers will hold hearings on two bills to regulate payday lenders on Monday, including one (House Bill 1310) that would cap the annual interest rate charged consumers at 36 percent. Lenders would also have to check a new database starting next year to make sure they’re not lending to someone who already owes money to another lender.- People who lease extra water to the state wouldn’t have to risk losing their water rights under a measure (House Bill 1280) set to be considered by the House Agriculture, Livestock & Natural Resources on Wednesday. Environmentalists and outfitters hope it encourages people to let more water flow downstream, to boost the fish population as well as the state’s recreation industry.- The Senate Transportation Committee will consider raising the threshold for boaters to be charged with driving under the influence on Thursday. The measure (Senate Bill 159) would lower the minimum blood alcohol limit for DUIs from 0.10 to 0.08 and cover all vessels, not just motorboats and sailboats.