Matt Masich, LAW WEEK COLORADO
The Colorado Department of Revenue violated the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, with the 2008 increased in the amount of tax that mining companies pay for every ton of coal extracted. The state, represented by the office of Attorney General John Suthers, argued the tax is based on a fixed rate that is adjusted by the Producers’ Price Index, and therefore not a tax rate increase.
The panel’s opinion, written by Judge Sean Connelly, brushed aside the state’s argument with a succinct syllogism: “(1) TABOR prohibits increasing tax rates without voter approval … (2)Applying statutory formula increased the coal severance tax rate (initially from $0.54 to $0.76 per ton) without voter approval… (3)Therefore, TABOR was violated.”
Paul Seby, attorney with Moye White who represented the Colorado Mining Association in its successful appeal, applauded the court’s decision.
“The Court of Appeals has made clear that TABOR means what it says, and that is that anytime any branch of the Colorado government tries to raise taxes, the courts will strike those down if they’re not first approved by the voters of Colorado,” Seby said.