If you’re a homeowner in Jefferson County, you have likely received your TABOR refund check mixed in with the season’s holiday cards and catalogs. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights – or TABOR – requires the county to return $1.5 million in property tax revenue this year that exceeded Jeffco’s limit for last year.
Every property taxpayer – including homes, businesses and other organizations – will receive their share of the $1.5 million refund. The average refund totals $7. However, 87 percent of property taxpayers will receive less than $7 and some as little a penny. That’s because the top five highest property taxpayers, who are large commercial properties, drive up the average. We determined mailing TABOR refund checks is the most direct and transparent way for each taxpayer to receive their fair share. One of the options the county has used in the past is to apply a credit to the following year’s property tax bill. Another option is to seek voter approval to retain the excess revenue. A similar measure in 2018 failed at the ballot box. Jefferson County is one of the few counties left in the state that does not have voter approval to reinvest TABOR surplus funds in services and programs. TABOR checks were a popular topic during commissioners’ telephone town hall last week. Community members asked lots of good questions. One caller wanted to know if the county could keep the money if she didn't cash her check. The short answer is no. Any uncashed checks will go through the State of Colorado’s unclaimed property process – more commonly known as the Great Colorado Payback. We encourage all taxpayers who received a check to cash it and spend at one of our local businesses or donate to a Jefferson County non-profit. Others asked how much it cost to issue the TABOR checks. The county has mailed 212,874 checks at 97 cents per check – or more than $200,000 plus the cost of printing informational fliers. While some said they would rather see the funds go to fix county roads and other services, others appreciated the TABOR refund to use as they see fit. I donated my TABOR refund as part of a larger contribution to Jeffco nonprofits addressing hunger, housing, child abuse and neglect, and other pressing issues in our community during Colorado Gives Day last Tuesday. (I’m also doing all of my holiday shopping at Jeffco businesses and I encourage you to do the same to help support all of our local businesses.) Regardless of what side of the TABOR debate you’re on, one issue is clear. The measure’s limits on revenue growth contributed to cuts in the county budget (specifically, the general fund) totaling $16.1 million in 2020 and an additional $8.7 million in 2021. More cuts are expected in 2023. These reductions affect essential public services such as public safety, roads and more. For more about the county’s financial realities, visit: https://www.jeffco.us/3839/Financial-Realities-for-Jefferson-County. Wishing you and your family all the best for the holidays!
To learn more about the Jefferson County Commissioners, visit our website. The Board of County Commissioners’ public hearings are held on most Tuesdays at 8:00 a.m. and we invite you to join us for public comment. Click here for details.