Van Winkle: Time to reexamine 2010 emergency taxes

Author: Rep. Kevin Van Winkle - January 24, 2017 - Updated: January 23, 2017

State Rep. Kevin Van Winkle
State Rep. Kevin Van Winkle

Many of you reading this won’t remember the 2010 Colorado legislative session. Heck, think to yourself if you can recall any legislation passed back then. You likely won’t remember much of what happened that session, but if I mentioned “The Dirty Dozen” I bet you will remember those 12 overreaching taxes proposed, and passed by the Democrats in the state House and Senate during what they declared a “fiscal emergency” requiring extraordinary measures to save the state budget.

While no one can argue that our state was in a fiscal turmoil in 2010, the partisan solutions varied as much as the politics itself. We ended up getting stuck with 9 new tax increases to help fill the budget shortfall projected that year and were able to skate by without major cuts in services, which is what Democrats cried would be necessary if these taxes weren’t passed by the Legislature.

Since the passage of these legislative measures, our state budget has increased nearly 60 percent. Services have expanded and programs have been funded entirely on the backs of our citizens who are paying increased, compounding taxes — or worse yet, hidden taxes no one knows about or can remember. This brings me to the crux of my column: the repeal of House Bill 10-1194.

If you don’t remember HB 10-1194, let me refresh your memory. It was the Eliminate Nonessential Articles Sales Tax Exemption, or “The Doggy Bag Tax”. Since the logic of taking your leftovers home from a restaurant, the box your pizza gets delivered in, the straw provided for your beverage, the napkin to wipe your hands with or the utensils required to consume your meal are all non-essential items, you have been paying a hidden tax on them  — above state sales and use taxes — for almost 6 years now. What this means to you and me is that we are all paying more because of government overreach. With the tax exemption eliminated on take home food containers, restaurants were forced to add that additional tax to your bill in order to help fill the state coffers during their “fiscal emergency.”

I have proposed HB 17-1009 — Restore Nonessential Articles Tax Exemption to remove these items used for human consumption from state sales and use taxes. If leaders are unwilling to restore these exemptions, we should force a vote of our citizens, required under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, for any tax increases outside of emergency circumstances. The emergency is over, and we owe it to our Colorado families to help keep more money in their pockets. Repealing this mandate is a good first step.

As that famous quote from Jerry McGuire goes — “Help me help you!” Please contact your state senator and state representative, and encourage them to support this commonsense repeal of an unnecessary mandate that is slowly taking money out of your pocket. Or next time, ask the pizza delivery company to not include the box and see if you get a “tax break.”


Rep. Kevin Van Winkle

State Rep. Kevin Van Winkle represents Highlands Ranch and Colorado House District 43. He welcomes all ideas, insights and feedback so we can make our Colorado communities better. Email kevin@vanwinkleforcolorado.com