Colorado Constitution, Article 10, Taxpayer\'s Bill of Rights
Section 1. Fiscal year. The fiscal year shall commence on the first day of October in each year, unless otherwise provided by law.
Section 2. Tax provided for state expenses. The general assembly shall provide by law for an annual tax sufficient, with other resources, to defray the estimated expenses of the state government for each fiscal year.
Section 3. Uniform taxation exemptions. (1) (a) Each property tax levy shall be uniform upon all real and personal property not exempt from taxation under this article located within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax. The actual value of all real and personal property not exempt from taxation under this article shall be determined under general laws, which shall prescribe such methods and regulations as shall secure just and equalized valuations for assessments of all real and personal property not exempt from taxation under this article. Valuations for assessment shall be based on appraisals by assessing officers to determine the actual value of property in accordance with provisions of law, which laws shall provide that actual value be determined by appropriate consideration of cost approach, market approach, and income approach to appraisal. However, the actual value of residential real property shall be determined solely by consideration of cost approach and market approach to appraisal; and, however, the actual value of agricultural lands, as defined by law, shall be determined solely by consideration of the earning or productive capacity of such lands capitalized at a rate as prescribed by law.
(b) Residential real property, which shall include all residential dwelling units and the land, as defined by law, on which such units are located, and mobile home parks, but shall not include hotels and motels, shall be valued for assessment at twentyone percent of its actual value. For the property tax year commencing January 1, 1985, the general assembly shall determine the percentage of the aggregate statewide valuation for assessment which is attributable to residential real property. For each subsequent year, the general assembly shall again determine the percentage of the aggregate statewide valuation for assessment which is attributable to each class of taxable property, after adding in the increased valuation for assessment attributable to new construction and to increased volume of mineral and oil and gas production. For each year in which there is a change in the level of value used in determining actual value, the general assembly shall adjust the ratio of valuation for assessment for residential real property which is set forth in this paragraph (b) as is necessary to insure that the percentage of the aggregate statewide valuation for assessment which is attributable to residential real property shall remain the same as it was in the year immediately preceding the year in which such change occurs. Such adjusted ratio shall be the ratio of valuation for assessment for residential real property for those years for which such new level of value is used. All other taxable property shall be valued for assessment at twentynine percent of its actual value. However, the valuation for assessment for producing mines, as defined by law, and lands or leaseholds producing oil or gas, as defined by law, shall be a portion of the actual annual or actual average annual production therefrom, based upon the value of the unprocessed material, according to procedures prescribed by law for different types of minerals. Nonproducing unpatented mining claims, which are possessory interests in real property by virtue of leases from the United States of America, shall be exempt from property taxation.
(c) The following classes of personal property, as defined by law, shall be exempt from property taxation: Household furnishings and personal effects which are not used for the production of income at any time; inventories of merchandise and materials and supplies which are held for consumption by a business or are held primarily for sale; livestock; agricultural and livestock products; and agricultural equipment which is used on the farm or ranch in the production of agricultural products.
(d) Ditches, canals, and flumes owned and used by individuals or corporations for irrigating land owned by such individuals or corporations, or the individual members thereof, shall not be separately taxed so long as they shall be owned and used exclusively for such purposes.
(2) (a) During each property tax year beginning with the property tax year which commences January 1, 1983, the general assembly shall cause a valuation for assessment study to be conducted. Such study shall determine whether or not the assessor of each county has complied with the property tax provisions of this constitution and of the statutes in valuing property and has determined the actual value and valuation for assessment of each and every class of taxable real and personal property consistent with such provisions. Such study shall sample at least one percent of each and every class of taxable real and personal property in the county.
(b) (I) If the study conducted during the property tax year which commences January 1, 1983, shows that a county assessor did not comply with the property tax provisions of this constitution or the statutes or did not determine the actual value or the valuation for assessment of any class or classes of taxable real and personal property consistent with such provisions, the state board of equalization shall, during such year, order such county assessor to reappraise during the property tax year which commences January 1, 1984, such class or classes for such year. Such reappraisal shall be performed at the expense of the county.
(II) If the study performed during the property tax year which commences January 1, 1984, shows that the county assessor failed to reappraise such class or classes as ordered or failed in his reappraisal to meet the objections of the state board of equalization, the state board of equalization shall cause a reappraisal of such class or classes to be performed in the property tax year which commences January 1, 1985. The cost of such reappraisal shall be paid by the state by an appropriation authorized by law. However, if such reappraisal shows that the county assessor did not value or assess taxable property as prescribed by the provisions of this constitution or of the statutes, upon certification to the board of county commissioners by the state board of equalization of the cost thereof, the board of county commissioners shall pay to the state the cost of such reappraisal.
(III) The reappraisal performed in the property tax year which commences January 1, 1985, shall become the county's abstract for assessment with regard to such reappraised class or classes for such year. The state board of equalization shall order the county's board of county commissioners to levy, and the board of county commissioners shall levy, in 1985 an additional property tax on all taxable property in the county in an amount sufficient to repay, and the board of county commissioners shall repay, the state for any excess payment made by the state to school districts within the county during the property tax year which commences January 1, 1985.
(c) (I) Beginning with the property tax year which commences January 1, 1985, and applicable to each property tax year thereafter, the annual study conducted pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection (2) shall, in addition to the requirements set forth in paragraph (a) of this subsection (2), set forth the aggregate valuation for assessment of each county for the year in which the study is conducted.
(II) If the valuation for assessment of a county as reflected in its abstract for assessment is more than five percent below the valuation for assessment for such county as determined by the study, during the next following year, the state board of equalization shall cause to be performed, at the expense of the county, a reappraisal of any class or classes of taxable property which the study shows were not appraised consistent with the property tax provisions of this constitution or the statutes. The state board of equalization shall cause to be performed during the next following year, at the expense of the county, a reappraisal of any class or classes of taxable property which the study shows were not appraised consistent with the property tax provisions of this constitution or the statutes even though the county's aggregate valuation for assessment as reflected in the county's abstract for assessment was not more than five percent below the county's aggregate valuation for assessment as determined by the study. The reappraisal shall become the county's valuation for assessment with regard to such reappraised class or classes for the year in which the reappraisal was performed.
(III) In any case in which a reappraisal is ordered, state equalization payments to school districts within the county during the year in which the reappraisal is performed shall be based upon the valuation for assessment as reflected in the county's abstract for assessment. The state board of equalization shall also order the board of county commissioners of the county to impose, and the board of county commissioners shall impose, at the time of imposition of property taxes during such year an additional property tax on all taxable property within the county in an amount sufficient to repay, and the board of county commissioners shall repay, the state for any excess payments made by the state to school districts within the county during the year in which such reappraisal was performed plus interest thereon at a rate and for such time as are prescribed by law.
(IV) If the valuation for assessment of a county as reflected in its abstract for assessment is more than five percent below the valuation for assessment for such county as determined by the study and if the state board of equalization fails to order a reappraisal, state equalization payments to school districts within the county during the year following the year in which the study was conducted shall be based upon the valuation for assessment for the county as reflected in the county's abstract for assessment. The board of county commissioners of such county shall impose in the year in which such school payments are made an additional property tax on all taxable property in the county in an amount sufficient to repay, and the board of county commissioners shall repay, the state for the difference between the amount the state actually paid in state equalization payments during such year and what the state would have paid during such year had such state payments been based on the valuation for assessment as determined by the study.
As amended November 6, 1956. (See Laws 1957, p. 796.); as amended November 2, 1982 Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, December 30, 1982. (See L. 82, p. 691.); as amended November 8, 1988 Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, January 1, 1989. (For the text of this amendment and the votes cast thereon, see L. 88, p. 1457, and L. 89, p. 1661.)
Section 4. Public property exempt. The property, real and personal, of the state, counties, cities, towns and other municipal corporations and public libraries, shall be exempt from taxation.
Section 5. Property used for religious worship, schools and charitable purposes exempt. Property, real and personal, that is used solely and exclusively for religious worship, for schools or for strictly charitable purposes, also cemeteries not used or held for private or corporate profit, shall be exempt from taxation, unless otherwise provided by general law.
As amended November 3, 1936. (See Laws 1937, p. 1033.)
Section 6. Selfpropelled equipment, motor vehicles, and certain other movable equipment. The general assembly shall enact laws classifying motor vehicles and also wheeled trailers, semitrailers, trailer coaches, and mobile and selfpropelled construction equipment, prescribing methods of determining the taxable value of such property, and requiring payment of a graduated annual specific ownership tax thereon, which tax shall be in lieu of all ad valorem taxes upon such property; except that such laws shall not exempt from ad valorem taxation any such property in process of manufacture or held in storage, or which constitutes the inventory of manufacturers or distributors thereof or dealers therein; and further except that the general assembly shall provide by law for the taxation of mobile homes.
Such graduated annual specific ownership tax shall be in addition to any state registration or license fees imposed on such property, shall be payable to a designated county officer at the same time as any such registration or license fees are payable, and shall be apportioned, distributed, and paid over to the political subdivisions of the state in such manner as may be prescribed by law.
All laws exempting from taxation property other than that specified in this article shall be void.
As amended by the People, November 2, 1976. (See Laws 1976, p. 1579.)
Section 7. Municipal taxation by general assembly prohibited. The general assembly shall not impose taxes for the purposes of any county, city, town or other municipal corporation, but may by law, vest in the corporate authorities thereof respectively, the power to assess and collect taxes for all purposes of such corporation.
Section 8. No county, city, town to be released. No county, city, town or other municipal corporation, the inhabitants thereof, nor the property therein, shall be released or discharged from their or its proportionate share of taxes to be levied for state purposes.
Section 9. Relinquishment of power to tax corporations forbidden. The power to tax corporations and corporate property, real and personal, shall never be relinquished or suspended.
Section 10. Corporations subject to tax. All corporations in this state, or doing business therein, shall be subject to taxation for state, county, school, municipal and other purposes, on the real and personal property owned or used by them within the territorial limits of the authority levying the tax.
Section 11. Maximum rate of taxation. The rate of taxation on property, for state purposes, shall never exceed four mills on each dollar of valuation; provided, however, that in the discretion of the general assembly an additional levy of not to exceed one mill on each dollar of valuation may from time to time be authorized for the erection of additional buildings at, and for the use, benefit, maintenance, and support of the state educational institutions; provided, further, that the rate of taxation on property for all state purposes, including the additional levy herein provided for, shall never exceed five mills on each dollar of valuation, unless otherwise provided in the constitution.
As amended November 2, 1920. (See Laws 1921, p. 179.)
Section 12. Public funds report of state treasurer. (1) The general assembly may provide by law for the safekeeping and management of the public funds in the custody of the state treasurer, but, notwithstanding any such provision, the state treasurer and his sureties shall be responsible therefor.
(2) The state treasurer shall keep adequate records of all moneys coming into his custody and shall at the end of each quarter of the fiscal year submit a written report to the governor, signed under oath, showing the condition of the state treasury, the amount of money in the several funds, and where such money is kept or deposited. Swearing falsely to any such report shall be deemed perjury.
(3) The governor shall cause every such quarterly report to be promptly published in at least one newspaper printed at the seat of government, and otherwise as the general assembly may require.
Repealed and reenacted, with amendments, November 5, 1974 Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, December 20, 1974. (See Laws 1974, p. 454.)
Section 13. Making profit on public money felony. The making of profit, directly or indirectly, out of state, county, city, town or school district money, or using the same for any purpose not authorized by law, by any public officer, shall be deemed a felony, and shall be punished as provided by law.
Section 14. Private property not taken for public debt. Private property shall not be taken or sold for the payment of the corporate debt of municipal corporations.
Section 15. Boards of equalization duties property tax administrator. (1) (a) There shall be in each county of the state a county board of equalization, consisting of the board of county commissioners of said county. As may be prescribed by law, the county boards of equalization shall raise, lower, adjust, and equalize valuations for assessment of taxes upon real and personal property located within their respective counties, subject to review and revision by the state board of equalization.
(b) There shall be a state board of equalization, consisting of the governor or his designee, the speaker of the house of representatives or his designee, the president of the senate or his designee, and two members appointed by the governor with the consent of the senate. Each of such appointed members shall be a qualified appraiser or a former county assessor or a person who has knowledge and experience in property taxation. The general assembly shall provide by law for the political composition of such board and for the compensation of its members and, with regard to the appointed members, for terms of office, the filling of vacancies, and removal from office. As may be prescribed by law, the state board of equalization shall review the valuations determined for assessment of taxes upon the various classes of real and personal property located in the several counties of the state and shall, upon a majority vote, raise, lower, and adjust the same to the end that all valuations for assessment of taxes shall be just and equalized; except that said state board of equalization shall have no power of original assessment. Whenever a majority vote of the state board of equalization is prescribed by this constitution or by statute, "majority vote" means an affirmative vote of the majority of the entire membership of such board.
(c) The state board of equalization and the county boards of equalization shall perform such other duties as may be prescribed by law.
(2) The state board of equalization shall appoint, by a majority vote, a property tax administrator who shall serve for a term of five years and until his successor is appointed and qualified unless removed for cause by a majority vote of the state board of equalization. The property tax administrator shall have the duty, as provided by law, of administering the property tax laws and such other duties as may be prescribed by law and shall be subject to the supervision and control of the state board of equalization. The position of property tax administrator shall be exempt from the personnel system of this state.
As amended November 3, 1914; November 6, 1962. (See Laws 1915, p. 164; Laws 1963, p. 1059.); as amended November 2, 1982 Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, December 30, 1982. (See L. 82, p. 695.)
Section 16. Appropriations not to exceed tax exceptions. No appropriation shall be made, nor any expenditure authorized by the general assembly, whereby the expenditure of the state, during any fiscal year, shall exceed the total tax then provided for by law and applicable for such appropriation or expenditure, unless the general assembly making such appropriation shall provide for levying a sufficient tax, not exceeding the rates allowed in section eleven of this article, to pay such appropriation or expenditure within such fiscal year. This provision shall not apply to appropriations or expenditures to suppress insurrection, defend the state, or assist in defending the United States in time of war.
Section 17. Income tax. The general assembly may levy income taxes, either graduated or proportional, or both graduated and proportional, for the support of the state, or any political subdivision thereof, or for public schools, and may, in the administration of an income tax law, provide for special classified or limited taxation or the exemption of tangible and intangible personal property.
Added November 3, 1936. (See Laws 1937, p. 675.)
Section 18. License fees and excise taxes use of. On and after July 1, 1935, the proceeds from the imposition of any license, registration fee, or other charge with respect to the operation of any motor vehicle upon any public highway in this state and the proceeds from the imposition of any excise tax on gasoline or other liquid motor fuel except aviation fuel used for aviation purposes shall, except costs of administration, be used exclusively for the construction, maintenance, and supervision of the public highways of this state. Any taxes imposed upon aviation fuel shall be used exclusively for aviation purposes.
As amended November 5, 1974 Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, December 20, 1974. (See Laws 1974, p. 459.)
Section 19. State income tax laws by reference to United States tax laws. The general assembly may by law define the income upon which income taxes may be levied under section 17 of this article by reference to provisions of the laws of the United States in effect from time to time, whether retrospective or prospective in their operation, and shall in any such law provide the dollar amount of personal exemptions to be allowed to the taxpayer as a deduction. The general assembly may in any such law provide for other exceptions or modifications to any of such provisions of the laws of the United States and for retrospective exceptions or modifications to those provisions which are retrospective.
Adopted November 6, 1962. (See Laws 1962, p. 312.)
Section 20. The Taxpayer's Bill of
(1) General provisions. This section takes effect December 31, 1992 or as stated. Its preferred interpretation shall reasonably restrain most the growth of government. All provisions are self-executing and severable and supersede conflicting state constitutional, state statutory, charter, or other state or local provisions. Other limits on district revenue, spending, and debt may be weakened only by future voter approval. Individual or class action enforcement suits may be filed and shall have the highest civil priority of resolution. Successful plaintiffs are allowed costs and reasonable attorney fees, but a district is not unless a suit against it be ruled frivolous. Revenue collected, kept, or spent illegally since four full fiscal years before a suit is filed shall be refunded with 10% annual simple interest from the initial conduct. Subject to judicial review, districts may use any reasonable method for refunds under this section, including temporary tax credits or rate reductions. Refunds need not be proportional when prior payments are impractical to identify or return. When annual district revenue is less than annual payments on general obligation bonds, pensions, and final court judgments, (4) (a) and (7) shall be suspended to provide for the deficiency.
(2) Term definitions. Within this section: (a) "Ballot issue" means a non-recall petition or referred measure in an election.
(b) "District" means the state or any local government, excluding enterprises.
(c) "Emergency" excludes economic conditions, revenue shortfalls, or district salary or fringe benefit increases.
(d) "Enterprise" means a government-owned business authorized to issue its own revenue bonds and receiving under 10% of annual revenue in grants from all Colorado state and local governments combined.
(e) "Fiscal year spending" means all district expenditures and reserve increases except, as to both, those for refunds made in the current or next fiscal year or those from gifts, federal funds, collections for another government, pension contributions by employees and pension fund earnings, reserve transfers or expenditures, damage awards, or property sales.
(f) "Inflation" means the percentage change in the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Index for Denver-Boulder, all items, all urban consumers, or its successor index.
(g) "Local growth" for a non-school district means a net percentage change in actual value of all real property in a district from construction of taxable real property improvements, minus destruction of similar improvements, and additions to, minus deletions from, taxable real property. For a school district, it means the percentage change in its student enrollment.
(3) Election provisions.
(a) Ballot issues shall be decided in a state general election, biennial local district election, or on the first Tuesday in November of odd-numbered years. Except for petitions, bonded debt, or charter or constitutional provisions, districts may consolidate ballot issues and voters may approve a delay of up to four years in voting on ballot issues. District actions taken during such a delay shall not extend beyond that period.
(b) At least 30 days before a ballot issue election, districts shall mail at the least cost, and as a package where districts with ballot issues overlap, a titled notice or set of notices addressed to "All Registered Voters" at each address of one or more active registered electors. The districts may coordinate the mailing required by this paragraph (b) with the distribution of the ballot information booklet required by section 1 (7.5) of article V of this constitution in order to save mailing costs. Titles shall have this order of preference: "NOTICE OF ELECTION TO INCREASE TAXES/TO INCREASE DEBT/ON A CITIZEN PETITION/ON A REFERRED MEASURE." Except for district voter-approved additions, notices shall include only:
(i) The election date, hours, ballot title, text, and local election office address and telephone number.
(ii) For proposed district tax or bonded debt increases, the estimated or actual total of district fiscal year spending for the current year and each of the past four years, and the overall percentage and dollar change.
(iii) For the first full fiscal year of each proposed district tax increase, district estimates of the maximum dollar amount of each increase and of district fiscal year spending without the increase.
(iv) For proposed district bonded debt, its principal amount and maximum annual and total district repayment cost, and the principal balance of total current district bonded debt and its maximum annual and remaining total district repayment cost.
(v) Two summaries, up to 500 words each, one for and one against the proposal, of written comments filed with the election officer by 45 days before the election. No summary shall mention names of persons or private groups, nor any endorsements of or resolutions against the proposal. Petition representatives following these rules shall write this summary for their petition. The election officer shall maintain and accurately summarize all other relevant written comments. The provisions of this subparagraph (v) do not apply to a statewide ballot issue, which is subject to the provisions of section 1 (7.5) of article V of this constitution.
(c) Except by later voter approval, if a tax increase or fiscal year spending exceeds any estimate in (b) (iii) for the same fiscal year, the tax increase is thereafter reduced up to 100% in proportion to the combined dollar excess, and the combined excess revenue refunded in the next fiscal year. District bonded debt shall not issue on terms that could exceed its share of its maximum repayment costs in (b) (iv). Ballot titles for tax or bonded debt increases shall begin, "SHALL (DISTRICT) TAXES BE INCREASED (first, or if phased in, final, full fiscal year dollar increase) ANNUALLY...?" or "SHALL (DISTRICT) DEBT BE INCREASED (principal amount), WITH A REPAYMENT COST OF (maximum total district cost), ...?"
(4) Required elections. Starting November 4, 1992, districts must have voter approval in advance for:
(a) Unless (1) or (6) applies, any new tax, tax rate increase, mill levy above that for the prior year, valuation for assessment ratio increase for a property class, or extension of an expiring tax, or a tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain to any district.
(b) Except for refinancing district bonded debt at a lower interest rate or adding new employees to existing district pension plans, creation of any multiple-fiscal year direct or indirect district debt or other financial obligation whatsoever without adequate present cash reserves pledged irrevocably and held for payments in all future fiscal years.
(5) Emergency reserves. To use for declared emergencies only, each district shall reserve for 1993 1% or more, for 1994 2% or more, and for all later years 3% or more of its fiscal year spending excluding bonded debt service. Unused reserves apply to the next year's reserve.
(6) Emergency taxes. This subsection grants no new taxing power. Emergency property taxes are prohibited. Emergency tax revenue is excluded for purposes of (3) (c) and (7), even if later ratified by voters. Emergency taxes shall also meet all of the following conditions: (a) A 2/3 majority of the members of each house of the general assembly or of a local district board declares the emergency and imposes the tax by separate recorded roll call votes.
(b) Emergency tax revenue shall be spent only after emergency reserves are depleted, and shall be refunded within 180 days after the emergency ends if not spent on the emergency.
(c) A tax not approved on the next election date 60 days or more after the declaration shall end with that election month.
(7) Spending limits. (a) The maximum annual percentage change in state fiscal year spending equals inflation plus the percentage change in state population in the prior calendar year, adjusted for revenue changes approved by voters after 1991. Population shall be determined by annual federal census estimates and such number shall be adjusted every decade to match the federal census.
(b) The maximum annual percentage change in each local district's fiscal year spending equals inflation in the prior calendar year plus annual local growth, adjusted for revenue changes approved by voters after 1991 and (8) (b) and (9) reductions.
(c) The maximum annual percentage change in each district's property tax revenue equals inflation in the prior calendar year plus annual local growth, adjusted for property tax revenue changes approved by voters after 1991 and (8) (b) and (9) reductions.
(d) If revenue from sources not excluded from fiscal year spending exceeds these limits in dollars for that fiscal year, the excess shall be refunded in the next fiscal year unless voters approve a revenue change as an offset. Initial district bases are current fiscal year spending and 1991 property tax collected in 1992. Qualification or disqualification as an enterprise shall change district bases and future year limits. Future creation of district bonded debt shall increase, and retiring or refinancing district bonded debt shall lower, fiscal year spending and property tax revenue by the annual debt service so funded. Debt service changes, reductions, (1) and (3) (c) refunds, and voter-approved revenue changes are dollar amounts that are exceptions to, and not part of, any district base. Voter-approved revenue changes do not require a tax rate change.
(8) Revenue limits. (a) New or increased transfer tax rates on real property are prohibited. No new state real property tax or local district income tax shall be imposed. Neither an income tax rate increase nor a new state definition of taxable income shall apply before the next tax year. Any income tax law change after July 1, 1992 shall also require all taxable net income to be taxed at one rate, excluding refund tax credits or voter-approved tax credits, with no added tax or surcharge.
(b) Each district may enact cumulative uniform exemptions and credits to reduce or end business personal property taxes.
(c) Regardless of reassessment frequency, valuation notices shall be mailed annually and may be appealed annually, with no presumption in favor of any pending valuation. Past or future sales by a lender or government shall also be considered as comparable market sales and their sales prices kept as public records. Actual value shall be stated on all property tax bills and valuation notices and, for residential real property, determined solely by the market approach to appraisal.
(9) State mandates. Except for public education through grade 12 or as required of a local district by federal law, a local district may reduce or end its subsidy to any program delegated to it by the general assembly for administration. For current programs, the state may require 90 days notice and that the adjustment occur in a maximum of three equal annual installments.
Enacted by the People November 3, 1992 -- Section 1 of article V of this constitution provides that initiated measures shall take effect upon the Governor's proclamation. Subsection (1) of this section provides that this section shall take effect December 31, 1992, or as stated. (See subsection (4).) The Governor's proclamation was signed January 14, 1993. (For the text of this initiated measure, see L. 93. p. 2165.); section 20 (3)(b)(v) amended November 8, 1994 -- Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, January 19, 1995. (See L. 94, p. 2851.); the introductory portion to section 20 (3)(b) and (3)(b)(v) amended November 5, 1996 -- Effective upon proclamation of the Governor, December 26, 1996. (For the text of the amendment and the votes cast thereon, see Laws 1995, p. 1425, and Laws 1997, p. 2393.)