Another One Bites the Dust? Unpopular ‘Amazon Tax’ may be 3rd of the “Dirty Dozen” tax increases to be repealed this year
“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” – Mark Twain (1866)
Occasionally, however, the legislature can succeed in undoing previous acts putting one’s life, liberty, or property at risk…
State legislators made some progress this week towards repealing another one of last year’s “Dirty Dozen” tax increases (which exploited a Colorado Supreme Court ruling to take more of your money without asking, as is required under the Colorado Constitution). Last month, the legislature made progress towards “Cleaning up the ‘Dirty Dozen’ tax increases” with repeal of last year’s Ag tax increase, HB10-1195, Suspend Ag Sales & Use Tax Exemption (Ferrandino/Heath), and downloaded software tax increase, (HB 10-1192, Sales and Use Tax of Standardized Software (Pommer/Heath)).
The “Dirty Dozen” was the name given to a package of twelve legislative bills which sought to increase tax revenues by eliminating existing tax credits or exemptions – an end-run around the constitutional requirement (in Article X, Section 20 – colloquially known as the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR) for “voter approval in advance for… any new tax, tax rate increase, or… tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain to any district.”
Last year’s legislative majorities (Democrats dominated both chambers of the state General Assembly) were emboldened in their assault on the constitutional rights (and wallets) of Colorado citizens by an interpretation of the Colorado Supreme Court’s ruling in the notorious “Mill Levy Tax Freeze” case (another unconstitutional tax increase, sanctioned by the court under the pretense that a rate “freeze” which collects more revenue doesn’t count as a tax increase for triggering that pesky constitutional requirement to receive “voter approval in advance”). Solid legislative majorities, a compliant governor, and a complicit supreme court allowed them to take a bigger bite of your money without first (or ever) asking for permission.
Since the 2010 elections resulted in a shift of control of one legislative chamber (the state House of Representatives) and many members of the new majority campaigned on a promise to seek the repeal of these unconstitutional tax increases, progress towards the elimination of any one of these unconstitutional (and economy-killing) tax increases is welcome news.
The bill to repeal the ‘Amazon Tax’ (HB 11-1318, Notification of Use Taxes) co-sponsored by Reps. Amy Stephens (R-Monument) and Sue Schaffer (D-Wheat Ridge) repeals last year’s HB 10-1193, Sales Tax Out of State Retailers (Pommer/Heath), particularly the onerous, intrusive, and unconstitutional requirement for out-of-state retailers to divulge customer information to the state, while maintaining a requirement for out-of-state retailers to notify Colorado customers of their ‘obligation’ to pay state use taxes.
While enforcement of this requirement may prove difficult from a practical standpoint (the authority of the Colorado legislature to regulate businesses from out of state may rest on rather tenuous legal grounds), it does at least remove the requirement that retailers rat your out – which gave rise to the predicted (inevitable, really) court challenge to the law.
The ‘Amazon Tax’ repeal bill was swiftly and overwhelmingly approved in the House (on a 58-6 bipartisan vote) and is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate this week, where it is likely to pass (albeit less overwhelmingly) since the ‘Amazon Tax’ law has been blocked in Federal court since January.
NONE of the “Dirty Dozen” tax bills would have seen the light of day if not for last year’s legislature’s exploitation of a Colorado Supreme Court ruling to bypass the Colorado Constitution’s requirement to receive “voter approval in advance for… any new tax, tax rate increase, or… tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain to any district.”
Still, it’s good to see “another one bite the dust.”
Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts. We will continue to work to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.
Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.