Colorado 2018 GASB-77 Data

ß Back to GASB-77 Resource Center

 

COLORADO 2018 GASB-77 DATA:

How much revenue foregone on top of TABOR?

GASB 77, or Statement No. 77 of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) set forth by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB), requires governments to disclose the amount of foregone tax revenue due to tax abatement programs.

 

Updated: November 26, 2019

 

Colorado has the most restrictive tax and expenditure limit in the country, according to a ranking by this study. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) has severely restrained local revenue and led to many service cuts since it went into effect in 1992. Tax breaks on top of depressed revenue streams can be extra costly. This snapshot takes a look at the cost of tax abatement programs as reported by local governments.

Among the 53 of the 64 counties in Colorado that posted their 2018 Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) online, only 11 counties complied with the GASB 77 requirement for disclosing revenue lost to tax abatements. These are Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Denver, El Paso, Douglas, Jefferson, Mesa, Morgan, Pueblo, and Weld counties. Altogether, they reported $34 million in foregone revenue in 2018.  Most abatements were applied to business personal property taxes.

About half of the 50 largest municipalities in Colorado – from (#1) City and County of Denver with over 664,000 people to (#50) City of Craig with just under 9,000 – complied with GASB 77 and reported $68 million in total foregone tax revenue. One entity, Denver Urban Renewal Authority, was responsible for incurring a $19.2 million loss due to various tax increment financing agreements. The City of Aurora also mentioned its hefty tax increment financing obligations though not as part of GASB 77 disclosures. As far as the compliant jurisdictions go, the quality of disclosure is decent, with many going above and beyond the GASB 77 requirements to also name the recipients.   

In Colorado, there is a clear pattern of larger jurisdictions being more likely to disclose (R2 = 0.74 for counties and 0.41 for cities). All compliant counties are among the largest in the state, while some of the smallest counties do not even have 2018 reports online. All 18 cities with 50,000 people or more complied with GASB 77. This is encouraging since larger jurisdictions often have more expensive programs. Reporting by school districts, however, leaves much to be desired. Out of the 72 school districts sampled here, not one mentioned GASB 77 even though all are required to adhere to GAAP.

While these revenue reduction numbers reported by local governments in Colorado are not particularly outrageous, it is important to keep in mind both the issue of potential under-reporting (due to flexible interpretation of what counts as tax abatements) and the context of an already austere tax regime. More pressingly, we still do not know the cost of economic development shouldered by public schools.

 

Appendix: Colorado localities that complied with GASB 77 in 2018

GASB 77 compliant localities

Amount of taxes abated ($)

Denver City and County

19,440,000

El Paso County

0

Arapahoe County

57,840

Jefferson County

763,262

Adams County

193,911

Douglas County

1,006,175

Weld County

4,042,892

Pueblo County

6,927,675

Mesa County

39,507

Broomfield City and County

1,517,937

Morgan County

9,965

City of Colorado Springs

826,323

City of Aurora

0

City of Fort Collins

1,188,882

City of Lakewood

3,825,215

City of Thornton

6,287,598

City of Arvada

633,420

City of Westminster

1,794,252

City of Pueblo

2,011,029

City of Centennial

4,232,227

City of Boulder

55,073

City of Greeley

1,729,016

City of Longmont

822,499

City of Loveland

47,500

Town of Castle Rock

1,213,400

City of Commerce City

3,380,643

City of Littleton

170,585

City of Brighton

4,957,428

City of Wheat Ridge

354,060

Town of Erie

0

City of Greenwood Village

388,323

City of Lone Tree

7,084,235

Town of Johnstown

447,374

Town of Firestone

747,668

Town of Frederick

283,422

* municipalities selected from 50 largest by population size

 

See also:

COLORADO GASB-77 ROADMAP (institutional schematic for enforcing GASB-77 compliance)

COLORADO ACCOUNTABILITY PROFILE (transparency scores, major subsidy deals, database entries, and much more)

 

 

ß Back to GASB-77 Resource Center