Money

Colorado taxpayers could see as much as $750 in their refunds under the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights, up from the $500 lawmakers first thought.

That refund, required under TABOR's revenue limits, is to be paid out in the fall, instead of after Coloradans file their 2022 tax returns next year, to help them offset increased costs from the high inflation.

Members of the Colorado Legislature learned about the new amount after receiving their June economic forecast Tuesday, which showed higher-than-expected revenues for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which ends June 30.

"(Tuesday's) forecast shows that our economy is making a bold recovery with unemployment rates falling to pre-pandemic levels, nearly all sectors thriving, and Colorado employment gains outpacing the nation," said Rep. Julie McCluskie, a Dillon Democrat whose district includes the eastern half of Delta County.

"We know that even with our strong recovery, families are struggling with high gas prices and the rising cost of living," McCluskie added. "Our Colorado Cashback Plan will send every Coloradan a check in September to help with everyday necessities, which thanks to our economic growth, will now be at least $750 for single filers and $1,500 for joint filers."

Unlike normal tax refunds, the state is required to refund revenues it takes in that exceed caps set by TABOR, a voter-approved tax-limiting constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1992.

The June forecast by the Legislative Council, the Legislature's non-partisan research and staffing arm, said the state's reserve is expected to be $1.6 billion higher than the statutory minimum.

At the same time, state revenue for the current fiscal year is expected to exceed revenue caps by nearly $3.6 billion, spurring the TABOR refunds.

Economists with the council also are estimating a similar windfall for the 2022-23 fiscal year, saying that, as things stand now, state revenue is expected to exceed the TABOR cap by about $3 billion, meaning similar refunds in 2024.

Legislative economists said the state's improving employment situation has much to do with all that.

"Consumer spending activity remains strong overall, and the labor market has recovered in record time compared with previous recessions," legislative economist David Hansen told the Legislature's Joint Budget Committee.

"Most sectors have reached or exceeded pre-pandemic levels and competition for workers remains strong," he added. "We expect Colorado job growth will outpace the nation this year, growing at 4.1%. As measured nationally, job openings continue to vastly outpace hiring as businesses continue to seek out workers."