IRS tax forms with tax refund check taxes tabor

Colorado legislators on Wednesday passed legislation that sends $400 — or more — in Taxpayer's Bill of Rights refund checks to residents just as the fall election campaign season starts.

House members amended the bill this week to allow the state to refund up to 85% of the TABOR surplus, which could make the money higher if revenue forecasts hew to Democrats' expectations. However, if state revenues fall short of expectations, the refund checks would be lowered to avoid overpayment.

The Colorado General Assembly's last-day crunch

A spokesman for House Democrats told Colorado Politics on Tuesday that, based on conversations with the Department of Revenue and the governor's Office of State Planning and Budgeting, the rebate checks will increase to at least $500 for single filers and $1,000 for joint filers.

Taxpayers will receive equal payments, regardless of income.

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“Colorado’s strong economic recovery means we can send even more money back to taxpayers in September to help them afford the rising cost of living and pay for necessities like gas, groceries and rent,” Rep. Tony Exum Sr. D-Colorado Springs, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “We’re excited that based on positive economic indicators, we will be able to boost the amount of the early refund checks Coloradans will receive in September. People are struggling now, so we are delivering this urgent relief as soon as we can in a fairer and more equitable way.”

Under the current schedule, the money would have been sent out next April as part of the state's three-tiered TABOR refund mechanism, but Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic lawmakers want to take the money available through the third mechanism, which deals with sales tax, and send those checks out in August or September of this year. Critics have called it a political ploy intended to boost Polis and Democrats in advance of the November election. Sponsors, including Polis, counter that that Coloradans, facing high food, housing and fuel costs, need the money now instead of waiting until next year.

The bill ultimately received wide bipartisan support in the House, where 54 members voted for it and only 11 opposed the measure. Polis has 30 days to take action on the bill.

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