Will Supreme Court Take Up TABOR?

Date: February 03, 2015

Related Content: News State Colorado Economy

Fight over taxpayer bill of rights comes amid expected refunds for Colorado taxpayers.

Even as Coloradans are expected to receive a tax refund for the first time in years under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), the constitutional amendment is still being challenged in courts.

Economists forecast that Coloradans could be owed rebates as soon as this year under the constitutional spending limit that requires tax refunds when state revenue is more than the rate of inflation plus population growth.

Voters could decide to let Colorado keep the money, but Gov. John Hickenlooper told the Denver Post he will not ask for that—though he warned that the refunds mean the state may have to make cuts to services like nursing home oversight and education.

Legislators have challenged the 1992 TABOR amendment, and in March, a federal appeals court said it would allow their lawsuit to go forward. NFIB and other groups are asking the Supreme Court to hear the case in the spring, hoping it will rule in favor of TABOR.

A high court ruling could have implications beyond Colorado.

“Our concern is that this case could open the door for litigants to challenge basic state constitutional protections for citizen taxpayers,” Luke Wake, senior staff attorney for NFIB’s Small Business Legal Center, said in a statement. “Not only does it call into question every initiative or referenda, but it also invites legal challenges to fiscal restraints, which are nearly ubiquitous throughout the 50 states.”

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