The TABOR Amendment, which was approved by voters in 1992, limits the amount of revenue the State of Colorado can retain and spend.1 Specifically, TABOR allows the state to retain and spend an amount based on the prior fiscal year's actual revenue or limit, whichever was lower, grown by Colorado inflation and population growth and adjusted for any "voter-approved revenue changes."
Referendum C2, a voter-approved revenue change passed in 2005, allowed the state to retain and spend all revenue collected between FY 2005-06 and FY 2009-10. For FY 2010-11 and all succeeding years, Referendum C allows the state to retain and spend all revenue collected up to the "Referendum C cap," grown by inflation plus population growth from FY 2007-08 revenue, provided that revenue retained in excess of the pre-2005 "TABOR limit base" be spent for certain programs. Surplus revenue in excess of the Referendum C cap must be refunded to Colorado taxpayers. The money is refunded from the state’s general operating fund, known as the “General Fund.”
The TABOR Amendment requires voter approval for tax increases. Fees, which are not addressed in this handbook, can be increased by the state legislature without voter approval. Voter approval is also required to increase the TABOR limit, which constrains state revenue from both taxes and fees.
TABOR revenue reports can be found on the Office of the State Controller website. For more information about TABOR, visit the following pages on the Legislative Council Staff website:
- TABOR Revenue Limit
- History of TABOR Refund Mechanism
- History of TABOR Enterprises
- Report on Referendum C Revenue and Spending
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