County Commissioner Gary Ellis said the bill had been revised from its original form, and while it doesn’t give counties the ability to collect taxes outright, but does open dialogue about sales tax collection with the Department of Revenue.
“In terms of what we were looking for it was a little bit of a victory,” he said. “It was a baby step in that direction, but we still have to work with other counties to get this done, to collect our own sales tax.”
Montrose has been working with Douglas and El Paso counties and Colorado Counties Inc. to pass the amendment, which is “an intermediate step to the final objective of counties being able to collect, enforce and audit their own sales tax revenues,” according to a Montrose County news release.
Home rule counties and towns that collect their own sales tax can increase their collection by approximately 15 to 20 percent per year, Ellis said. At present, sales taxes are first sent to the state and then disbursed back to counties and towns.
As a member of the Colorado Counties Inc. Taxation and Finance Committee, Ellis said it is important that the county directly collects all the sales tax revenues approved by voters in 2007.
“That way we can honor our commitment to improved roads and law enforcement,” he said.
The original bill, sponsored by Sen. Jim Isgar (D-Hesperus) and Rep. Bob Gardner (R-Colorado Springs), would have allowed any county “to collect, administer and enforce its own sales tax” and “to also collect state and other local sales taxes imposed within the county.”
Although HB 1130 falls short of those goals, if it ultimately passes in the Legislature, it will accomplish two things, Ellis said.
“It will require the Department of Revenue to do annual reporting to finance committees of the House and the Senate,” he said. “It will also allow us to work with and collaborate information sharing with counties.”
But even if it passes, more legislation will be required before the county can collect taxes directly.
“Does it give us the ability to collect our own? No,” he said. “To get this before the Legislature is an issue we will still push and hopefully someday we will be able to accomplish that.”