As predicted, “Amazon Tax” exploiting Colorado Supreme Court ruling enabling unconstitutional “Dirty Dozen” tax increases challenged in Federal court
Clear The Bench Colorado was at the forefront of the opposition to the unconstitutional “Dirty Dozen” tax increases passed by the Colorado Legislature at the start of the session – testifying before the House and Senate Finance Committees that the tax increases were violations of the rights of Colorado citizens under the Taxpayers Bill of Rights to be consulted (by vote) before being subjected to more or higher taxes, despite an interpretation of the Colorado Supreme Court ruling in the “Mill Levy Tax Freeze” case that the requirement to ask first could be ignored.
Among the worst of the “Dirty Dozen” tax increases from both a constitutional and policy perspective was the internet sales tax (or “Amazon Tax”) House Bill 10-1193: Sales Tax Out of State Retailers (Pommer/Heath) – which not only violates the Colorado Constitution (Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights), but also the U.S. Constitution’s 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches & seizures, as we stated in testimony before the Colorado Senate Finance Committee prior to the bill’s passage into law:
This bill also presents a constitutional challenge of a different kind – issues of invasion of privacy. Collecting information on every online purchase of Colorado citizens in attempting to enforce this tax will justly provoke extreme outrage. It will also inevitably provoke a host of legal challenges based on 4th Amendment protections.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
We advised the committee that constitutional challenges to this law were practically inevitable, and stood a very good chance of success, even before the frequently anti-constitutional Colorado Supreme Court. We also advised the committee that citizens would be justifiably outraged by the intrusion into their private affairs since the only way the state could hope to enforce the tax is by obtaining detailed lists of purchases Coloradans made and invading their privacy – as the bill contains provisions to subpoena online retailers to receive lists of purchases made by Colorado citizens.
Wednesday – brought to my attention earlier today by citizen journalist Ari Armstrong in an article published in People’s Press Collective and Free Colorado (“Business group challenges ‘Amazon Tax’“) the predicted came to pass: someone fought back in court against this unjust law.
It was announced yesterday that the Direct Marketing Association filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Colorado challenging the new law as unconstitutional. The DMA cited privacy violations because the new law requires companies to turn over confidential purchasing history information to the Colorado Department of Revenue. The DMA also claims the law unfairly discriminates against interstate commerce.
It’s worth noting that the challenge was filed in Federal court, not in the state courts, because the plaintiffs clearly understand that the Colorado Supreme Court has established a pattern of failing to uphold the law (as written) and that the current majority on the court would have a vested interest in striking down any challenge to the tax increase law since it relied explicitly on an interpretation of their ruling in the “Mill Levy Tax Freeze” case. It’s a sad state of affairs when businesses and consumers cannot count on the courts in our state to uphold the rule of law.
Defend the rule of law – restore accountability to the Colorado Supreme Court, and bring back balance to the bench – by informing yourself about why the four (er, three remaining) incumbent justices of the Mullarkey Majority (Michael Bender, Alex Martinez, Nancy Rice, and soon to be minus Chief Justice Mary Mullarkey) deserve a “NO” vote in November. Remember, they need YOUR approval to continue taking away your constitutional rights: your right to vote on tax increases, your right to defend your home or business from against eminent domain abuse, your right to fair representation in government, and your right to enjoy the benefits of the rule of law, instead of suffering under rule by activist, agenda-driven “justices.” Support Clear The Bench Colorado with your comments (Sound Off!) and your contributions – and exercise your right to vote “NO” on retaining these unjust justices on the bench for another 10-year term!