DENVER — Refunds from the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, commonly known as TABOR, will start arriving in the mail this month.
The refunds are mandated by a Colorado constitutional amendment that limits how much the state can keep and spend each year.
Gov. Jared Polis (D) and state Democrats are trying to rebrand some of the TABOR refunds as a made-up term -- a made-up term they used 17 times during yet another news conference on Wednesday to announce that direct TABOR refund checks are arriving for full-time 2021 Colorado residents who filed state taxes.
"Colorado Cashback checks are already in the mail system," said Polis.
The direct checks are part of the TABOR refunds that Colorado residents would normally get when they file their taxes next year.
WATCH: 'Cash Back Rebate': Colorado Dems who tried to roll back TABOR now try to take credit for refunds
Lawmakers passed a bill this year, that Polis signed, issuing direct payments of $750 for single filers and $1,500 for joint filers ahead of November's election.
"The legislature took action to accelerate this refund mechanism This is money that people would have gotten back next year. We moved it up about a year. Nine or 10 months. Why? Because you need it now," said Polis.
Speakers at the news conference included:
- Department or Revenue Executive Director Mark Ferrandino
- State Treasurer Dave Young
- State Rep. Tony Exum (D-Colorado Springs)
- State Sen. Nick Hinrichsen (D-Pueblo)
- State Rep. Lindsey Daugherty (D-Arvada)
Between those six Democrats, they uttered the word "TABOR" five times.
They said some version of the term "Colorado Cashback" 17 times.
Ferrandino managed to combine the two in one sentence.
"Colorado Cashback is a TABOR refund," said Ferrandino.
In 2019, Polis signed a bill passed by Democrats in the legislature, to put Proposition CC on the ballot. Prop CC asked voters if the state could keep and spend future TABOR refunds. Voters rejected the ballot issue.
On Wednesday, not only was Polis touting the TABOR refund direct check, but also talked about increasing the amount of the refund because of tax bills he signed in 2021.
"The legislature acted to close tax loopholes that benefited the well-connected and big corporations. That increased the size of this refund by $34 to $50," said Polis. "This is a larger check because of closing down loopholes. It is a faster check because of the action of the legislature."
During the news conference, Polis was asked how it is transparent to not call it a TABOR refund and to not say that it is money he would rather have the state keep, but that he has to give it back.
"First of all, as I think two or three of us up here have said, including me, this is one of the TABOR refund mechanisms," said Polis.
Keep in mind, at that point in the news conference, that was the first time that Polis used the word TABOR.
"No one ever has indicated it's not. It is a TABOR refund mechanism. It's one of four. It's a new one we created."
TABOR refunds will also be returned to residents through:
- Senior and veteran property tax exemption
- Lowering income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.5%
- Through a six-tier refund on state income taxes next year
The six-tier refund is explained on this interactive Taboropoly board.
Polis said that even if Prop CC had passed, the state would have an overage today in tax revenue that he would have pushed to refund to residents as a stimulus.
"Had CC passed, we could fund the $750 refund to everybody. It would be out of one-time money we had. We would have sent it out. The money would still be there. The money doesn't disappear," said Polis.
He said he is in the "mend it, but don't end it" TABOR camp.
"I support elements of it, like the right to vote on tax increases," said Polis.
Polis said the inflation equation has flaws. For instance, Colorado's budget limit is based on inflation from last year. Current inflation is higher than that and could constrain the budget because of the lag. Though, in the future years, the state budget will benefit from the higher inflation percentage from the year before.
Language aside, Exum believes that the people waiting for their checks to arrive do not care what it is called, they just want to get paid.
"A lot of people have been asking me questions about TABOR and what it means. They just want us to show them the money. They don't really care about the mechanisms and what not, they just want to see the checks," Exum said.