Jefferson County mailing TABOR refund checks

Staff report
Posted 11/1/21

Jefferson County taxpayers will soon receive a TABOR refund check in the mail, as required by the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment (TABOR). The TABOR Amendment requires governments in …

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Jefferson County mailing TABOR refund checks

Posted

Jefferson County taxpayers will soon receive a TABOR refund check in the mail, as required by the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment (TABOR).

The TABOR Amendment requires governments in Colorado to refund excess revenue collected above the TABOR limit for a given fiscal year or seek voter approval to retain the excess revenue. In 2020, Jefferson County received approximately $1.5 million in property tax revenue above the TABOR property tax limit, as a result, the county is required to give that money back to the taxpayers in 2021.

There are a variety of methods that can be used to refund the excess property tax revenue to taxpayers. Examples include mailing refund checks or applying a credit to the following year’s property tax bill. According to a press release put out by the county, mailing refund checks "was the most direct and transparent way for each taxpayer to receive their fair share of the refund."

All property taxpayers will receive an equitable share of the $1.5 million refund. The average refund is about $7; however, 87% of property taxpayers will receive less than $7 because the top five highest property taxpayers – all large commercial properties – drive up the average.

The size of some refund checks will be less than $1 according to the county.

Still "the Board of County Commissioners, County Manager and staff believed it is important to be as equitable as possible in distributing the refund, according to the release.

Why is this happening?

Adopted by voters in 1992, TABOR applies to all levels of government in Colorado, including the state, counties, cities, school districts and special districts. In 2019 Jefferson County's Board of County Commissioners proposed Measure 1A, which would have allowed the county to keep tax revenue money that it would otherwise have to refund under TABOR, a move nicknamed "de-Brucing" after the author of TABOR, Douglas Bruce . The proposal was described as sorely needed by county government, particularly the Sheriff's Department to avert significant budgetary cuts.

Voters rejected 1A at the ballot box, which helped set the stage for Jeffco making $16.1 million in general fund cuts in 2020, and an additional $8.7 for 2021.

County staff state that more cuts will likely be necessary beginning in 2023.

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