Proposal calls for tax amnesty to offset cuts

The last time Colorado offered a tax amnesty program, it collected millions of dollars more in back taxes than lawmakers thought it would. Now, two Denver Democrats in the Colorado Legislature want to try that again.

Rep. Mark Ferrandino and Sen. Pat Steadman introduced a bill Wednesday to give Colorado businesses and residents who owe back taxes 60 days during the summer to pay those taxes and 50 percent of the interest on them without being assessed civil or criminal penalties.

The two men hope to raise about $15 million from the amnesty program, which would run from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30. It is identical to a 2003 program that raised about $20 million.

The two lawmakers’ plan calls for putting any revenue collected from the program toward K–12 spending to help offset an expected $332 million cut to public schools next year.

“Now is the right time to bring this program back,” Steadman said. “In the face of unprecedented cuts to public education, we need to look at every possible efficiency, and we need to make every effort to help our schools.”

The measure, which has 21 Democratic co-sponsors in the House and Senate but no Republican co-sponsor, also calls on the Colorado Department of Revenue to study the state’s tax credits and sales tax exemptions to see how effective they have been in stimulating the economy and job growth.

A measure calling for a similar study died in the Republican-controlled House last month.



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