NFIB made the front page of the Denver Post recently in an exposé discussing a handful of important cases pending in Colorado courts—all raising the recurring question of whether state or local authorities can justify monetary charges as “fees,” or whether such charges are more properly viewed as illegally imposed taxes. This issue is hugely important in Colorado because the Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights requires voter approval for new taxes. But we’ve noted previously that similar issues surface frequently in other jurisdictions that have enacted taxpayer protections—as lawmakers and bureaucrats are always eager to bring in new revenue, even when they can’t go through the proper channels.
As this Denver Post commentary notes, lawmakers have gone out of their way to evade TABOR. And that is exactly what NFIB is challenging in its pending lawsuit against the Colorado Secretary of State. Here lawmakers and bureaucrats have conspired to force Colorado’s small business community to finance all of the Secretary of State’s operations—including state and local elections. But, whereas we call these charges “taxes,” the Secretary contends that they are merely “fees” and exempt from TABOR’s voter submission requirements.
Sooner or later the Colorado Supreme Court is going to have to give some definitive clarity—hopefully to reign-in lawmakers and bureaucrats under TABOR. For that matter, we’re asking the Supreme Court to take our case now in the hope of breathing new life into TABOR. And at the end of the day, we hope to save small business owners from excessive charges in Colorado and beyond.