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Posted on: October 25, 2021

Jefferson County to Mail Residents TABOR Refund Checks

Text: TABOR Refund Checks with web address for more information

Jefferson County taxpayers will soon receive a TABOR refund check in the mail, as required by the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Amendment (TABOR).

The TABOR Amendment requires governments in Colorado to refund excess revenue collected above the TABOR limit for a given fiscal year or seek voter approval to retain the excess revenue. In 2020, Jefferson County received approximately $1.5 million in property tax revenue above the TABOR property tax limit, as a result, the county is required to give that money back to the taxpayers in 2021.  

There are a variety of methods that can be used to refund the excess property tax revenue to taxpayers. Examples include mailing refund checks or applying a credit to the following year’s property tax bill. After exploring the various options, Jefferson County determined mailing refund checks was the most direct and transparent way for each taxpayer to receive their fair share of the refund.

All property taxpayers will receive an equitable share of the $1.5 million refund. The average refund is about $7; however, 87% of property taxpayers will receive less than $7 because the top five highest property taxpayers – all large commercial properties – drive up the average. Property taxpayers include homes, businesses, and other organizations.

Even though some refund checks will be less than $1, the Board of County Commissioners, County Manager and staff believed it is important to be as equitable as possible in distributing the refund.

More on TABOR:

  • Adopted by voters in 1992, TABOR applies to all levels of government in Colorado, including the state, counties, cities, school districts and special districts.
  • The amount of revenue that can be received each year can only grow according to specific growth factors, depending on the level of government. For counties, such as Jefferson County, the annual revenue limit is based on the prior year’s actual revenue or limit (whichever was lower) and increases each year depending on two growth factors: local inflation and the value of new construction. Unlike the state TABOR limit, population figures do not factor into the county revenue limit.
  • County local growth factors often fail to keep pace with the demands stemming from the county’s expanding population because growth isn’t tied to population like it is at the state level. This means Jefferson County continues to provide services and maintain roads and other infrastructure for an increasingly larger group of people without having the funding to support these increases.
  • TABOR enables state and local governments to keep excess revenue, but such provisions must first be approved by voters. This action is referred to as “de-Brucing,” and it allows governments more flexibility to better serve their communities. “De-Brucing” is very common throughout Colorado, and voters in nearly 80% of counties in the state (51 of 64) have voted in favor of broad relief from TABOR revenue limits, allowing those counties to keep excess revenue and use it to address aging infrastructure and provide critical services to their communities.
  • Jefferson County has not broadly “de-Bruced” its revenue sources, which means residents will likely continue to receive refund checks in the coming years as the area’s population continues to outpace the increases in county TABOR revenue limits.
  • Being one of a few counties in the state that have not asked for broad relief from TABOR revenue limits, Jefferson County has a long history of deferring maintenance and needed expenditures. This means the county continues to operate from a model of scarcity despite efforts to be forward-thinking and innovative.
  • With limited revenue growth, the county had to make budget cuts to the General Fund totaling $16.1 million in 2020, and an additional $8.7 million in 2021. It is likely more cuts will be necessary beginning in 2023. These reductions affect essential public services such as public safety, roads and more.

There are more tough decisions ahead, and Jefferson County continues to evaluate all areas for efficiencies, reductions or possible elimination. We will continue to work to prioritize the safety and well-being of our community and those things only local government can do.

Learn more about TABOR
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