Aug 1, 2022 - Politics

Reality check: Behind Colorado's 2022 taxpayer refund

Illustration of a small dollar sign magnified by a monocle.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Starting today, Colorado will mail 3.7 million taxpayers rebates for $750, or $1,500 for joint tax filers.

The intrigue: Gov. Jared Polis and Democratic lawmakers have branded it the "Colorado Cash Back."

Reality check: It's all political spin.

  • The rebate is required under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a constitutional amendment that caps state revenues at inflation plus population growth, requiring that any surplus go back to taxpayers.
  • The refund is typically reflected in state income tax returns due each April, but Democrats moved it to three months before the general election, claiming taxpayers needed the money urgently.

By the numbers: Sending the checks early will cost the state $2.7 million — $1.7 million of which is the cost of mailing.

Of note: Democrats also changed the refund formula to make it more progressive by increasing the check for lower-income earners and decreasing it for those with higher incomes.

Context: The tinkering and spin constitute a brazen move by Democrats, given that the party has spent years weakening refund requirements to keep more state tax revenue, which critics say undermines TABOR's intent.

What to know: If you filed a Colorado income tax return for 2021 as a full-time resident, the check will get mailed to the same address.

  • It's expected to arrive by Sept. 30, Department of Revenue officials say.
  • Those who didn't file but made less than $21,381 a person and applied for a low-income PTC rebate are also eligible. This includes people living in the country unlawfully.

TABOR rebate FAQ

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