Gov. Jared Polis suggests eliminating Colorado income tax

Politics

DENVER (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis floated the idea of eliminating state income tax at a recent conservative political conference.

Polis was part of a panel discussion at the Steamboat Institute’s Freedom Conference and Festival where he scored points with those on the other side of the political aisle.

“When you tax something, you penalize it,” Polis said.

Polis said income growth is something we should not be penalizing.

“If we can move away from taxing income — which is something that you don’t want to discourage because we want everybody to make income … we want companies to make income — that’s a great thing,” Polis said. “Basing it on taxing pollution or carbon or something that we fundamentally don’t want … you’ll have a more pro-growth tax structure that gets the right incentives in place to help grow what you want to grow and penalize things that are negative externalities.”

But will the Democratic governor’s talk turn into action?

“His party is just against him on this,” said FOX31 Democratic political strategist Andy Boian. “This is not really something that Democrats fundamentally believe is the right way to go.”

Michael Fields, FOX31’s Republican political strategist, said Polis’ taxing stance is not a surprise.

“I think for some people who watch the governor day in, and day out, this wouldn’t be totally surprising if philosophically he believes this, but I think a lot of people on the left will be upset when they hear it,” Fields said.

Both men believe Polis won’t stand a chance getting enough support in the General Assembly to kill state income tax. Income taxes represent a large portion of the general fund. Major taxing shifts would be needed to plug a hole created by eliminating the income tax.

“Other states have higher sales tax or a severance tax that’s much higher,” Fields said.

Fields said there is a case to be made that the governor’s recent tax talk could help GOP lawmakers in their fight to lower income and property taxes moving forward.

FOX31 asked Polis press secretary Conor Cahill if the governor will push state lawmakers to kill income tax. Cahill provided the following statement that did not answer our question.

“Governor Polis is focused on meeting people where they are at and building a Colorado for all. The Governor has long believed that we should replace revenue needed for critical government service through taxation of things such as pollution instead of taxing hardworking Coloradans’ income. While some incorrectly believe this is somehow a new statement from the governor, this is actually something Gov. Polis has said a variety of different times over many years. During this forum, Gov. Polis highlighted the tax relief he has successfully delivered for the people and small businesses of Colorado during the discussion, including closing corporate loopholes to provide funding for the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, to his administration’s support for eliminating the business personal property tax for thousands of small businesses and making historic investments in our roads and infrastructure and work to save people money on health care.”

Conor Cahill, Gov. Polis press secretary

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