Colorado Targets Seniors, Retailers, Candy Lovers for New Taxes

NEW YORK -- In Colorado, seniors with a sweet tooth who own a retail store and have lived in the same home for 10 years are smack in the center of the tax collector's bull's eye.

First of all, the state removed the 50-percent tax exemption granted seniors over 65 years of age on the first $200,000 in the value of homes they've been living in for 10 years. This was a tax break enacted by no less than a constitutional amendment in 2000, but it also had a provision for suspending the break under certain conditions.

Then the state dropped the vendor's tax allowance that had been granted to retailers for collecting sales taxes -- an allowance that was once 3.5 percent and then reduced to 1.35 percent. Which means retailers will now collect and send to Denver the sales taxes they are mandated to collect, a service most states pay their retailers to do, but which the retailers of Colorado will be doing for nothing.

"And now, the Governor is threatening to add candy and soft drinks to the list of products subject to the state's 2.9 percent sales tax, a tax that is not imposed on any other grocery item," said Mark Larson, executive vice president of Colorado/Wyoming Petroleum Marketers Association (CPMA).

This means that not only will previously low-cost and enjoyable indulgences be increased in cost, but an administrative nightmare will be introduced into the system because there are innumerable "candy" and "soft drink" items that straddle the definition between a food and a candy.

"This tax will come up when the legislature meets in January, and if it does in its current form, we're going to lobby against it," said Larson.

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