Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Colorado Gives 2016 Update

I already explained my misgivings about Colorado Gives and the inefficiency of philanthropy.

I found the Colorado Department of Revenue's Annual Report for 2015.

The dismal results of Colorado Gives 2015 proves my hunch is correct. A very, very small number of people (less than 63,690 Coloradans) gave a measly $28.5 Million (much of that in recurring gifts that would have occurred anyway.)

Census.gov estimates that Colorado has 4.2 million adults 18 and over.  This means about 1.5% of Coloradan adults gave something.

Colorado taxes are a regressive disgrace.  They manage to be even more regressive than the sad nationwide average.  See how your state stacks up.

 To file part-year taxes for Colorado and California, I first calculate my taxes as if I solely resided in CA or CO.  I would pay about 3% more of my gross income to live in CA over CO. But Californians enjoy more legal, environmental and economic protections as well as higher levels of service from government.  If Colorado just followed California's example, we wouldn't have to resort to begging.

During the presidential campaign, one candidate bragged that not paying taxes makes him smart, normalizes tax avoidance.  Furthermore, he also gave virtually nothing to charities.  This normalizes selfishness.  He didn't just normalize it, he celebrated selfishness.

Giving to charity is for chumps under the current system.  Charities (thousand points of light) fills holes in the societal needs dike while states enable wholesale avoidance of responsibility to society with regressive tax codes and low tax rates.

I'm sitting out Colorado Gives.  It's a band-aid as long as Colorado has TABOR (the so-called tax payor bill of rights.)

If you feel like giving, please donate to High Country News.  I like to buy an e-subscription and donate a hard copy to a classroom.


  1. Do you think California's tax system is good (or is it just better than CO?). We have prop 13, which seems regressive, but relatively high income tax. Do you think that is a reasonable way to go?

    1. @J Take a look at the effective tax rates of the 50 states in the link above. http://www.itep.org/whopays/

      Prop 13 allows the top 1% of earners to pay an effective property tax rate of 1.6% while the bottom 20% pay a 3.6% tax rate. That's heavily regressive. However, CA's highly progressive income tax evens it out so that the total effective tax burden for the top 1% and bottom 20% are 8.7% vs 10.5%. That is slightly regressive, but good enough to be the 3rd most progressive (or 49th least regressive) distribution among the 50 states + DC.
      CA's distribution is shaped like a U.

      Contrast that with CO where the overall tax burden is 4.6% to 8.4%. CO's distribution pretty much goes straight down, favoring the rich. http://www.itep.org/whopays/states/colorado.php

      Overall, older people who bought their homes a long time ago make out like bandits in CA due to Prop 13.

      In CO, senior citizens, regardless of their income, qualify for an automatic 30% reduction in their property taxes. That's unbelievable in the face of how many people struggle to keep a roof over their heads in CO. Denver and LA are nearly tied for the % of renter households who spend HALF of their income on rent.

      I think CA can do better and should do better.

      But, CO is so deeply dysfunctional, I can't even face the magnitude of all the things wrong here.

  2. Thanks for the reminder about HCN. I'll follow your tip.
    In light of the current abundance of fake news I've retreated to brand name news providers that provide original reporting and synthesis of information.

  3. TABOR? Like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horace_Tabor
    Washington State doesn't pay for its own children's education, so I cannot throw any stones your way.

    1. No, I mean http://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/policy-basics-taxpayer-bill-of-rights-tabor


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