By Brian Ochsner firstname.lastname@example.org Is Referendum C a tax increase? Well, to begin with, if it isn’t, why are Coloradoans voting on it? One of the great aspects of TABOR is that it makes government get voters’ approval for any future tax increases -- or anything that resembles one.
Having gotten degrees in accounting and agribusiness, passed the CPA Exam, and been involved in Colorado politics since 1994, I know a little bit about finance and about state government.
As I see it, Ref C is a de facto tax increase. De facto is a Latin expression that means ‘in fact’ or ‘in practice.’ Wikipedia explains de facto like this: "De facto" is a qualifier that implies what’s being described is not quite universally accepted; otherwise, the idea (e.g., a standard) would usually be described without the term.
When discussing a legal situation, de jure designates what the law says, while de facto designates what happens in practice, which may differ.
Pro-C supporters say (or imply) that it’s technically not a tax increase because tax rates aren’t being increased. Even though Ref. C supporters won’t admit that it’s a tax increase, it doesn’t change this fact. It's true that that tax rates aren’t being raised with Ref C – but the net effect is still the same: Government will keep more of Colorado taxpayers’ money.
I hope this explanation is sufficient and clear enough. If not, here’s the best way to explain it to friends, family and neighbors: Referendum C is a tax increase simply because, if it passes, state government will keep more of your money, and you’ll keep less. Enough said.