Today, Colorado Center on Law and Policy (CCLP) and the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice.
Bethany Pray provided testimony for Senate Bill 24-093, Continuity of Health-Care Coverage Change. CCLP is in support of SB24-093.
CCLP Policy Fellow, Milena Castañeda testified at the Medical Services Board meeting regarding emergency rules for the NEMT.
Chaer Robert provided testimony against House Bill 24-1065, Reduction of State Income Taxes. CCLP is in opposition of HB24-1065.
Who gets the tax breaks in the 2023 Colorado Legislature?
Colorado is in a very odd situation. Our legislators can’t raise taxes due to TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights). Those are decisions left to voters, who often favor only the taxes they themselves do not pay. On the other hand, both the voters and legislators can cut taxes, or cut tax revenue with tax credits.
This past fall, voters approved a ballot measure to cut the income tax rate permanently from 4.55% to 4.4%, reducing state revenues by over $400 million per year. Almost half of the tax savings goes to those who make more than $1 million per year — less than 1% of tax filers. About 75% of tax filers get less than $63 per year in tax savings1. It also benefits corporations, whether they are headquartered here in Colorado or not. The measure does not reduce taxes for those who earn too little to owe income taxes, even as they pay a somewhat larger percentage of their income in various state taxes — sales, excise, and other taxes — compared to the wealthiest Coloradans.
One way to help balance the impact of such tax cuts is through the expansion of the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), both proven fighters of poverty, which are targeted to those Coloradans who see little or no benefit when the state income tax rate is reduced. For this session, a bill was referred from the Legislative Oversight Committee Concerning Tax Policy which would:
- Double the current state EITC from 20% of the federal EITC to 40%,
- Increase the size of the state Child Tax Credit incrementally, and;
- Expand child eligibility from only children under six to children under 17, to align with the federal CTC.
HB23-1112 is sponsored by Representative Shannon Bird, Senator Chris Hansen, and Senator Chris Kolker. The cost of the bill is approximately $460 million, but the legislation can be adjusted with an eye to balancing the tax cuts and credits that focus their benefits on the wealthiest individuals and corporations and reduce TABOR refunds for everyone else.
Last year the legislature approved SB22-233 — advance payment of much of the TABOR rebate (the revenues collected above the TABOR cap of last year’s general fund plus inflation and population growth, which must be returned to Coloradans). This advanced payment was approved to be a flat $750 per tax filer. Yet, for future years, the TABOR rebate would revert to being returned to Coloradans through a six-tiered sales tax refund, in which the wealthiest Coloradans get much more than the Coloradans with the lowest income. The regressive nature of our tax structure is reflected in our TABOR rebate statute. This year’s legislation by Representative Chris DeGruy Kennedy and Senator Nick Hinrichsen will propose permanently replacing the regressive six tiers of payments with a flat amount, an arrangement by which the wealthiest tax filers would not receive more than those with lower incomes.
Whenever we read about new tax breaks in Colorado, we should consider not just those who would benefit from it, but those who it would harm. TABOR drastically limits funding for the very services and programs on which some of the most struggling Coloradans rely. Perhaps our best chance to achieve more equity is to focus on to whom tax cuts, credits, and rebates go.