Colorado Referendum E, Property Tax Exemptions for Disabled Veterans (2006)
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Referendum E amended Section 3.5 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution to grant a property tax exemption to all U.S. military veterans living in Colorado who are 100% disabled due to a service-related disability.
Text of measure
The short ballot title was:
The expanded ballot title provided to describe Referendum E said:
- "An amendment to Section 3.5 of Article X of the Constitution of the state of Colorado, concerning the extension of the existing property tax exemption for qualifying seniors to any United States military veteran who is one-hundred percent permanently disabled due to a service-connected disability."
Summary and analysis
The Colorado Legislative Council is charged with providing a summary and analysis of each measure on the Colorado ballot. ("The state constitution requires that the nonpartisan research staff of the General Assembly prepare these analyses and distribute them in a ballot information booklet to registered voter households.")
To describe Referendum E, they said:
How does the program work? Homeowners pay property taxes based on the value of their home and the tax rate set by the local governments where they live. Referendum E reduces the taxable value of a qualified veteran's home by one-half of the first $200,000 of the home's value, thereby lowering property taxes owed on the home. The state legislature can adjust the $200,000 amount to either increase or decrease the benefit from Referendum E in future years. Currently, the state offers the same property tax reduction to homeowners age 65 and over who have lived in their homes for at least ten years. A qualifying veteran who is also eligible for a reduction in property taxes as a senior cannot claim both reductions.
The dollar amount of the tax reduction will vary among homeowners depending upon the local property tax rate, the home's value, and the amount of the exemption. Table 1 provides examples of how Referendum E reduces property taxes based on the average statewide property tax rate and the current exemption level.
Who qualifies for the tax reduction? Homeowners who have served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces and are rated 100-percent permanently disabled by the federal government due to a service-connected disability qualify for the tax reduction in Referendum E. Colorado National Guard members injured while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces also qualify. Veterans are rated 100-percent permanently disabled when a mental or physical injury makes it impossible for the average person to hold a job and the disability is lifelong. Nationally, less than one percent of veterans have a 100-percent permanent disability rating. About 2,200 veterans are expected to qualify for the property tax reduction in Colorado.
What are the fiscal implications? Referendum E affects property taxes paid beginning in 2008. The average property tax savings for those who qualify will be about $466. The total reduction in property taxes is estimated to be about $1 million in the first year. The state is required to reimburse local governments for the reduction in property tax revenue resulting from Referendum E.
- See also: Fiscal impact statement
The fiscal estimate provided by the Colorado Legislative Council said:
Referendum E increases state expenditures because it requires the state to reimburse local governments for reduced property tax collections. The state estimates that roughly 2,200 disabled veterans will qualify for the exemption and the average property tax reduction per veteran will be $466. Thus, the impact to the state will be slightly more than $1 million, beginning with the 2008 budget year.
Veterans For Referendum E was the group campaigning for this measure.
Arguments in favor
Supporters argued that:
- "Colorado needs to do more to help veterans who have sacrificed their health for our nation and state. Many states offer a property tax reduction for disabled veteran homeowners, and six states do not require these veterans to pay any property taxes. Referendum E provides one way, at a modest cost, for Colorado to thank 100-percent permanently disabled veterans for their service."
- "The money that Referendum E saves qualifying veterans can improve their quality of life. Despite existing government benefits, veterans still have unmet financial needs that are tied to their disability. Unlike most other citizens, 100-percent permanently disabled veterans have very limited opportunities to improve their quality of life through employment and other means. Referendum E is an opportunity for the state to at least partially offset this economic disadvantage."
No groups filed to oppose Referendum E.
For the official voter guide, the Colorado Legislative Council printed these arguments against Referendum E:
- "Referendum E is a special interest tax break that benefits less than one-twentieth of one percent of all Colorado residents. When one group benefits financially from a tax reduction, other taxpayers must pay. If the state can afford to reduce taxes for certain taxpayer groups, it should reduce taxes for all taxpayers. Referendum E further singles out a portion of the taxpayers it proposes to help by reducing taxes for 100-percent disabled veterans who are financially able to own homes. Disabled veterans who do not own a home do not benefit from this proposal."
- "Because veterans were in the service of the federal government, the responsibility to meet the financial needs of veterans rests with the federal government. By creating a new state program for a small group of veterans, Referendum E interferes with the balance of benefits set by the federal government. In addition, the recent focus on international conflicts may lead voters to believe the state is providing a benefit to only those veterans who were injured in a combat zone when in fact the injury may have resulted while on call or during a time when the United States was not at war."
Donors in favor
$5,901 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Referendum E.
There were no opposing donors.
- Campaign finance requirements for Colorado ballot measures
- Colorado 2006 ballot measures
- List of Colorado ballot measures
- 2006 ballot measures
- Colorado Blue Book on Referendum E
- History of Referendum E
- November 7, 2006 ballot measure election results in Colorado