Newly released data say we pay a boatload in state and local revenues. US Census reported combined state and local government receipts of “general revenue from own sources” for each state. This comprehensive total, when divided by Census estimates of states’ populations, shows Coloradans pay $6,657 per person to fill government coffers in our state.

We rank 15th in the nation in total burden and pay $345 per person more than the US average. Others offer different rankings … by excluding some revenues and changing denominators.

Whether we pay a lot or a little may help you decide how you’ll vote on the Billion dollar tax hike on this fall’s ballot.

Vince Carroll explains different calculations of how much money state and local governments take from Coloradans’ purses and wallets. Census includes revenues some exclude, and including local government cash raises our rank since that’s a bigger share for Colorado.

Speaking of cash, our politicians can’t raise “taxes” without a vote of the people, so they inventively hike “fees” (the moniker is “cash funds”). Nowadays state government gets almost as much from cash funds as from general revenue taxes. It’s a quiet raid. Counting only “taxes” really understates government takings. See cash funds’ increased share of state general and cash revenues combined.

Fiscal Year Cash Funds Share
1977 24%
1997 38%
2014 45%

So, what do you think? Do higher-tax backers tell the “whole truth” when they say we rank 40th nationally? Or is this another disguised fib from the BILLION-AIRES?


  • This data, released this July in two Census Excel files, is more current than sources reported by Carroll.  As Carroll says, some sources calculate rankings and tax burden on a “per $1,000 of income” basis. That changes rankings but see this report (4th page) to evaluate such methods.  
  • The Wisconsin Budget Project  3 created the methodology used to find Colorado ranks #15 in government revenues. Tamarine Cornelius provided details of their analysis; any errors are mine. 
  • Cash funds have changed definitions over time. Post-TABOR, some revenues, not counted against constitutional spending limits, were reported separately. Revenues transferred from one state government pot to another may be double counted and could affect the percentage estimates. Eric Kurtz of the Joint Budget Committee provided kindly assistance to untangle these changes in how revenues are reported, but any errors are mine. These are operating revenue calculations.