Sales tax proposal could help counties

Is Mesa County getting all the sales tax revenue it is due?

Members of Colorado Counties Incorporated, an organization representing the interests of counties, are not so sure. The members of Colorado Counties Inc. recently voted to propose legislation to allow all of Colorado’s counties to collect their own sales taxes. Currently, only home rule counties may collect their own sales taxes.

Members of Colorado Counties Inc. suspect the state is not returning all the tax revenue it collects and is holding the revenue for an extended period of time, collecting interest on the taxes, said Chip Taylor, legislative director for Colorado Counties Inc.

“It was a pretty overwhelming vote,” Taylor said. “We have never before tried to do straight county collection as a bill. I think we just finally got to a point we want to try this option.”

Taylor said Colorado Counties Inc. will draft a bill and submit it to the Legislature early next year.

Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca is the county’s representative to Colorado Counties Inc.

“Mesa County may realize a stronger revenue stream,” Acquafresca said when asked about the idea.

But before any legislation is proposed, some research into the numbers is needed, he said.

“Probably what needs to happen is counties need to work with the Legislature to do a thorough audit,” Acquafresca said.

He added it would be reasonable for state legislators to make a request of the state auditor “to dig into this immediately.”

Mark Couch, a spokesman for the state Department of Revenue, said the department is open to resolving the issue.

“We’re happy to investigate anything they can bring to our attention. We return every penny,” Couch said.

The Department of Revenue may introduce its own legislation in an attempt to square things with the counties. Couch said sometimes the state has difficulties determining where tax revenues should go when it receives payments from retailers who do business in several counties across Colorado.

“We are dependent upon the taxpayers themselves to provide the information we need to ensure those local entities get the money they deserve,” he said.

State law allows retailers to pay taxes prior to filing a tax return. The Department of Revenue often receives a bulk payment from retailers, but is uncertain how to divvy up the funds. The department could introduce its own legislation requiring retailers to file returns with their payments so Department of Revenue workers know immediately where the funds should go.

Couch said fixing that loophole is “certain” to resolve issues of concern to CCI’s members.


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