DENVER — An initiative that would lower the state’s income tax rate has made it to the November ballot with more than enough qualified signatures.
Secretary of State Jena Griswold announced the Real Fair Tax Initiative (Initiative 306) was deemed sufficient with a projected percentage of valid signatures at 112.38 percent, negating the need to hand verify all 198,538 signatures gathered.
If passed by voters in, Colorado’s flat income tax rate will go from 4.63 percent to 4.55 percent starting with the 2020 tax year.
One of the initiative’s proponents said he was just doing what Gov. Jared Polis has asked for.
“I’m just Jared Polis’ faithful foot soldier,” said Jon Caldara, president of the free-market think tank Independence Institute.* “He campaigned that he wanted a flat rate reduction in taxes. We’re doing just that for him.”
Proponents had until Aug. 3 to gather 124,632 signatures from registered voters to make the ballot in November. When a random sample of 5 percent of the signatures (9,927) were verified, 7,003 were deemed valid, making the number of signatures projected to be found valid 140,058.
When the projected valid signatures exceed 110 percent of those necessary, the secretary of state’s office automatically deems the petition sufficient.
Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, who represents much of rural eastern Colorado, is also one of the proponents behind the Real Fair Tax measure.
Real Fair Tax came about in response to another proposed initiative dubbed “The Fair Tax,” that sought to repeal Colorado’s flat income tax rate and replace it with a progressive rate that would increase taxes on Coloradans as they earned more.
That initiative, however, was unable to gather the signatures needed and will not appear on the ballot. Both Caldara and Sonnenberg expect Governor Polis to support their initiative.
“He has advocated for lower income tax,” Sonnenberg told Complete Colorado. “He talked to me, even two years ago about lowering the income tax. Now is the right time to do that, simply because people need to keep more of their own money in their pockets.”
Initiative 306 is a statutory change, meaning it needs 50 percent plus one of the vote to pass, and that lawmakers can later amend the measure if enacted, as with any other state law.
*Editor’s Note: Complete Colorado is a project of the Independence Institute.