Colorado Supreme Court upholds taxes for Denver special districts

A taxpayer advocacy group sued RTD and SCFD for allegedly violating TABOR.

Inside the Colorado Supreme Court room at the Ralph L. Carr Judicial Center. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld the legality of sales taxes that are collected by two special districts in metropolitan Denver.

Monday’s ruling came in a lawsuit filed by a taxpayer advocacy group in 2013. It sued the Regional Transportation District and a cultural district for allegedly violating Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

TABOR requires voter approval for any tax hike.

The legislature in 2013 allowed RTD and the cultural district to collect taxes on things such as candy, soft drinks and cigarettes.

The court ruled that new taxes are such minor changes to tax policy that they don’t require voter approval.

The taxes are expected to generate $2.7 million annually for RTD and $250,000 for the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District. That’s less than 1 percent of their budgets.