NTUF Sues Over Unconstitutional Property Tax Increase

NTUF’s Taxpayer Defense Center represents taxpayers to stop unconstitutional, retroactive, and unfair tax collection attempts. That’s why we are suing the Lower South Platte Water Conservation District (LSPWCD) in northeast Colorado, in partnership with the non-partisan Public Trust Institute (PTI), a Colorado-based public interest law firm.

The LSPWCD doubled its property tax levy in 2019, from 0.5 mills to 1 mill, without seeking something Colorado’s Constitution requires: a vote of the people it serves. When taxpayers complained about the tax increase never going before the voters, District officials said a 1996 election where voters allowed the District to keep excess tax revenues justified bypassing the vote.  However, that referendum specifically stated that the revenue retention was conditioned on the fact “that no local tax rate or property mill levy shall be increased at any time, nor shall any new tax be imposed, without the prior approval of the voters of the [LSPWCD].”

The LSPWCD has collected the higher taxes from residents in both 2020 and 2021 and has refused to admit its error and order a vote on the mill levy increase. NTUF and PTI filed the lawsuit, Aranci v. LSPWCD, on November 10, 2021 in Logan County District Court seeking all full refund of the illegally collected taxes to all District taxpayers.

“It’s hard to find a case of a local jurisdiction with a greater contempt for its own taxpayers and the clear Constitutional requirement for a vote on tax increases,” said PTI Legal Director Dan Burrows.  “It is vital that taxpayers stand up for their fundamental rights and we are very proud to represent these property owners who have been unconstitutionally taxed.”  

“This case is not just about the property owners in this District, but about whether essential taxpayer protections can be ignored,” said NTUF Vice President Joe Bishop-Henchman. “They illegally collected the taxes and won’t refund the money, so someone has to hold them accountable.”

Complaint filed November 10, 2021.

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