Oct 26, 2021 - News

1-minute voter guide: Ballot measure 304 asks for a tax cut

A ballot being dropped into the Denver skyline.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Ballot measure 304 in Denver asks voters to approve a sales tax cut — and a cap that keeps it there.

By the numbers: The current combined sales tax is 4.81% and the ballot measure proposed lowering it to 4.5%, where it would stay regardless of other special taxes that may pass in the future.

  • The current total sales tax in the city is 8.81% once state and dedicated taxes for transportation and the arts are added.
  • Car rentals and retail marijuana are taxed at higher rates and food and beverage is taxed at 4%.

What it means: If approved, the tax cut could lead to $49 million less in city tax revenue in the 2022 fiscal year. That number would increase to $55.7 million by 2026, according to a city analysis.

  • The total city budget is $1.5 billion.

Of note: It's unclear if the sales tax rate cap would impact retail marijuana taxes.

  • Further, the ballot measure doesn't specify how the city would trim the sales tax rate, meaning the city council would make decisions about how it applies to current spending.

In favor: The tax cut and cap is backed by Denver Republican Party chairperson Garrett Flicker and a conservative business-aligned group known as Defend Colorado.

In opposition: The Denver City Council unanimously passed a resolution expressing opposition to the ballot measure, saying it would lead to reductions in city services and programs voters approved in prior elections.


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