TABOR Decision Will Have National Impact

Date: March 10, 2014

News Release From NFIB/Colorado

DENVER, Colo., March 11, 2014—Last Friday’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to allow a lawsuit challenging Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) to proceed drew ominous warnings today from the National Federation of Independent Business, one of the parties filing a friend-of-the-court brief against the lawsuit.

“Colorado voters enacted the taxpayer bill of rights to restrain their government’s out-of-control appetite for spending, and today’s difficult economy does not give government the right to untether itself from these restraints,” said Tony Gagliardi, NFIB’s Colorado state director. “This case is of most immediate concern to Coloradans who face a potential loss of their right to vote on new taxes. If TABOR is struck down, the potential for new and unchecked tax hikes and spending hikes in Colorado will be overwhelming.” 

Added Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center: “The outcome of this decision will have wide-ranging implications on voter-enacted controls on state taxation, spending and borrowing. If TABOR is overturned, the Tenth Circuit will have created a precedent that opens the door for a torrent of lawsuits throughout the country challenging taxpayer protections, as well as any initiative or referendum.”

NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center previously filed an amici brief—leading a coalition of several other concerned organizations, including the TABOR Foundation—to defend the right of Coloradans to continue exercising their state constitutional right to vote on new or increased tax proposals. 

Friday’s decision affirmed a lower court’s denial of the Attorney General’s motion to dismiss the case against TABOR.  In 1992, Colorado voters in 1992 passed the TABOR amendment, which limits state spending and bars lawmakers from raising taxes without a vote of the people, except under certain emergency provisions. Plaintiffs in the case contend that TABOR limits the state from dealing with economic recessions. But NFIB’s brief argued that budgetary problems were not unique to Colorado and that tough economic conditions cannot justify invalidating voter-approved constitutional amendments. In light of the Tenth Circuit’s decision, the Colorado Attorney General’s office must now decide whether or not to petition for certiorari in the United States Supreme Court.


The NFIB Small Business Legal Center  is a 501(c)(3) organization created to protect the rights of America's small business owners by providing advisory material on legal issues and by ensuring that the voice of small business is heard in the nation's courts. Commemorating its 70th anniversary, the National Federation of Independent Business is the nation’s leading small-business association, with offices in Washington, D.C., and all 50 state capitals. Founded in 1943 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, NFIB gives small- and independent-business owners a voice in shaping the public policy issues that affect their business. NFIB’s powerful network of grassroots activists sends its views directly to state and federal lawmakers through our unique member-only ballot, thus playing a critical role in supporting America’s free enterprise system. NFIB’s mission is to promote and protect the right of our members to own, operate and grow their businesses. More information about NFIB is available at

National Federation of Independent Business/Colorado
1410 Grant St. C-107
Denver, CO 80203

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Opens the door for a torrent of lawsuits throughout the country challenging taxpayer protections

Karen Harned, executive director, NFIB Small Business Legal Center

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