September is going to be a green month for recreational customers in Colorado. The State recently announced plans to waive its special 10 percent tax on recreation marijuana for one day only, September 16th. The tax holiday is the result of a conflict in the Colorado state constitution. Marijuana sold on September 16 will still be subject to regular sales and local taxes which are always charged in addition to the 10 percent special tax. The reoccurrence of this state sanctioned holiday is likely never to happen again. An obscure provision the state constitution’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights is the cause of the single day tax holiday.
With talk of the tax holiday, comes the conversation of the dilemma directly related question: “What should we do with the tax money?” For the third time since 2012, Colorado voters will be asked to decide what should be done with the tax dollars collected from recreational sales of marijuana. The vote comes from the need to prevent a refund of the estimated $58 million in marijuana revenue. Gov. John Hickenlooper is expected to sign HB 1367 on Thursday (6/4), which will create a 2015 ballot question asking voters to block a marijuana tax refund.
Here’s a breakdown of what will happen based on the voter’s decision:
IF THE VOTERS SAY YES The state can spend the $58 million collected on pot taxes in the first fiscal years.
$40 million will be allocated to school construction and the rest will be distributed to a variety of programs including marijuana education, law enforcement, and treatment.
A handful of other programs providing services to children would receive some of the funds.
IF THE VOTERS SAY NO The state will return the $58 million through three separate types of refunds aimed at different groups:
INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS would get $25 million returned when they file state income taxes. This amounts to $6.10 per adult in Colorado, though the exact amount would vary depending on income brackets.
MARIJAUNA CONSUMERS would get $13.3 million in the form of a tax break on pot. For the first 1-6 months of 2016, the tax rate on marijuana would be dropped to 0.1% instead of 10%. The tax would be raised back to 10 percent when the total tax break amounts to $13.3 million or June 30—whichever comes first.
MARIJUANA GROWERS would get $19.7 million paid directly to them by the state. This is a refund of the excise tax paid to the state on wholesale pot before it ever reaches store shelves.