OPINION: Grassroots movement to simplify sales tax gaining traction: You can help

THE OPINION EXPRESSED BELOW MIGHT NOT REFLECT THE OPINIONS OF FTL, ITS LEADERSHIP, OR ITS MEMBERS

By Judy Vorndran, CPA, Esq.

Thousands of businesses face the challenge of trying to comply with a complex and punitive sales tax structure in Colorado. The heavier and more complex the sales tax burden is, the weaker the state’s business climate. It is this overall complexity that needs reform.

In 2015, key businesses, trade associations, and others in the state established the Simplify Colorado Sales Tax coalition with a mission of pursuing reforms that will create a “simple, fair, and predictable sales tax system in Colorado.” I am a Board member of this coalition.

We’re making fast progress and seeing promising wins at the state level:

  • In 2016, we worked with legislators and the governor’s office to successfully reform the process for tax audit assessments. Now taxpayers can appeal to district court before any tax payment is due.
  • In 2017, the coalition spearheaded the bill that led to the formation of the Sales and Use Tax Force. The Sales and Use Task Force is charged with studying the best ways to simplify the state’s mystifying and complex web of sales taxes. I was appointed by Governor Hickenlooper to a three-year term on this task force where early reform recommendations include: reducing licensure and remittance requirements; creating a statewide centralized database; and, consolidating audit authority across jurisdictions.
  • Separately under the Colorado Municipal League, a package of uniform definitions is gaining ground among home rule cities. As of this writing, about a third of self-administered taxing municipalities have adopted the model definitions.

Coalition efforts continue to be validated at the state level where, with each step forward, more policymakers are seeing the benefits of reform. That is, making sales tax less taxing means more taxpayers will collect and remit what is due.

We need your help to keep the momentum and pressure on Colorado’s state legislators to simplify sales tax.

The Coalition to Simplify Colorado Sales Tax is a nonprofit organization governed and represents over 8,400 Colorado businesses and the CPA Society’s 8,500 members. Learn more at Simplify Colorado Sales Tax coalition.