Gov. Jared Polis talks Colorado Cash Back checks, curbing costs amid inflation and more in conversation with Katie Pelton
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - For those who haven’t heard, a check is in the mail courtesy of the state of Colorado!
It’s part of the Colorado Cash Back program, an early TABOR refund signed into law by Gov. Jared Polis back in May.
The governor joined 11 News anchor Katie Pelton for a conversation over what the Colorado Cash Back program will do for you, how to make sure you get your check, and other ways the state is trying to alleviate things for families amid sky-high inflation. Below is the full interview:
KATIE PELTON: SO FIRST OFF, THE QUESTION OF THE HOUR: TELL US WHERE THE PROCESS STANDS RIGHT NOW? HAVE THOSE CHECKS BEEN MAILED OUT?
Gov. Jared Polis: “I’m excited to say the checks are in the mail! Now, some are in the mail, they’re going in the mail over the next week. Most people will get them in the next week. Now, if you get them the week after that, certainly don’t panic. What we’re telling folks, especially if you have mail forwarding or something like that, don’t get worried about it unless you don’t get it in August. If it gets to September and you haven’t gotten it, you’ll want to go to coloradocashback.com and make sure you can address what the issue is. But folks should basically be getting their checks next week, the week after. Neighbors will get it, you should get it. If you don’t get Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, don’t panic, you’ll probably get it the following week.”
SO THE MONEY IS ON THE WAY, BUT BE PATIENT RIGHT NOW.
“And to be clear, it’s $750 for every person. If you’re a married couple, joint filer, you get $1,500 back. So, $750, individual, $1,500, joint filers. Make sure to open it -- it’s a letter from the state! Don’t throw it in the trash! It’s not junk mail. That is your check. It’s up to you how to spend it: local stores, local restaurants, towards your retirement -- it’s up to you!”
WALK US THROUGH THE COLORADO CASH BACK. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE LAW YOU SIGNED IN MAY?
“Yeah. So these are tax refunds that were due a year later. We did it because of rising prices, gas prices, grocery prices -- we’re all experiencing it and we said, ‘Why should the government sit on your money for a year? Let’s get it back quick, easy, as quick as possible. This is for the state year that ended June 30 -- the state has weird years, it doesn’t end on Dec. 31, it goes July 1 to June 30. So the year ended; rather than wait until the following year, nine months, 10 months later to give you the money back, we signed a bill to get it back now. The check’s a little bigger because we also closed down some special interest tax loopholes that companies and lobbyists had gotten in. That increased the check by about $50.”
WHO QUALIFIES FOR THE CHECKS? YOU HAD TO HAVE FILED YOUR INCOME TAXES FOR THE STATE, CORRECT?
“Everybody who filed for 2021 will automatically get this check. Now, if you haven’t filed for 2021, you have an extension or you didn’t have any income to declare, you don’t lose out on this. This is very important: as long as you file for 2021 by Oct. 17, you will get your refund check. You’ll get it by Christmas if you haven’t filed. So 90-plus percent of filers file on time, by April, it’ll be automatic, but for the other 10 percent that have extensions or even if they don’t have extensions, maybe they had zero income to file: yes, you can file and you will get your check by the end of the year.”
GOVERNOR, YOU HAVE TALKED ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO GET THIS MONEY OUT TO FOLKS. I’M A CONSUMER REPORTER, I TRACK THESE THINGS; PRICES ARE REALLY SURGING RIGHT NOW, INFLATION IS THE HIGHEST IT’S BEEN IN 40 YEARS. WHAT ELSE IS THE STATE DOING TO HELP CURB COSTS?
“Yeah, so there are some other things you might know. I signed a law that removed the sales tax permanently from items including diapers and feminine hygiene products at grocery stores and drug stores. So those sales taxes that had been to those, it wasn’t on groceries. What we said is basically, diapers, feminine products, those are necessities, that should be like apples and oranges, there’s no sales tax, it’s not a luxury item. So we removed the sales tax from those items permanently. That should be showing up on your receipts. We also did a number of other ways to save people money. Some you won’t notice until ‘23, ‘24. For instance, a major property tax cut. For the ‘23 year and the ‘24 year, the property tax rate is significantly lower. We did a two-year property tax reduction. I hope we’ll figure out the path forward to extend it after that because you’ll certainly notice that in ‘23 and ‘24.
I’M CURIOUS, GOVERNOR, ARE YOU CONSIDERING ANY OTHER DIRECT CHECKS OR PAYMENTS BESIDES THIS LIKE WE SAW MAILED OUT DURING THE HEIGHT OF THE PANDEMIC?
“This is the one we’re doing now. People will see some more money back on their April filings from the state. We also reduced the income tax in Colorado. For all income earned this year, you’ll be paying 4.5 percent instead of 4.55 percent, so again, you’ll notice that when you file next year. So there’s a number of other tax and fee reductions that have gone in. For example, professional licensing fees to become a nurse or health care worker, it’s usually $150 a year, all those are free for the next year. We should be thanking our health care workers, not charging them. Another example: it’s $1 to start a business in Colorado, which is really exciting as an entrepreneur myself. Normally, it’s $75, $100. We made it $1 to start a new business because while $75 may not seem like a lot of money, if your whole budget starting a business is $400, $75 is a lot of money, and so it’s only $1 to start a new business and we hope that encourages the entrepreneurs of tomorrow to take a chance at pursuing turning their vision into reality.
WHILE WE’RE ON THE TOPIC OF MONEY AND INFLATION, SOME EXPERTS ARE WORRIED ABOUT A LOOMING RECESSION. ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT A RECESSION? HOW WOULD COLORADO BE ABLE TO HANDLE THAT IF IT DOES HAPPEN?
“The only thing certain is uncertainty. When you talk to five economists, you get 10 opinions, and so there’s enormous spread, everything from we’re going to have a period of economic growth to we’re in a recession or we’re heading towards a recession. So we are preparing for all contingincies. We have record state reserves. We have the biggest rainy day funding in the history of Colorado. We hope that we don’t need to use that or deploy that in the next year or two, but it’s good to know and Coloradans can be assured we do have the largest reserve fund Colorado has ever had.
WE’VE BEEN HEARING FROM SOME OPPONENTS TODAY TOO. WHAT DO YOU SAY TO SOME GROUPS WHO ARE SAYING THAT THE CASH BACK IS A POLITICAL STUNT?
“Well, I think it’s very cynical and ridiculous to say that, for instance, you should delay this return to people, and somehow, because there’s an election coming up, the government should hold on to their money for a year. No, people want it back quickly. No one’s saying to delay this check by 10 months. It’s absolutely ridiculous. And I would add. a lot of relief I’ve signed into law, people won’t even see until after the election. Like property tax cuts, enormous tax cuts, $700 million, that’s in ‘23 and ‘24. This one, of course, we need to get this money out rather than make you wait a year for it. You’re dealing with gas prices and grocery prices now. Maybe summer travel, costs going up. We don’t want the government to sit on this money; we want to get it back in your hands.
I KNOW A LOT OF FOLKS ARE EXCITED TO HAVE THIS MONEY IN THEIR POCKETS WHILE PRICES ARE INCREASING. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE US TO KNOW ABOUT THE CASH BACK PROGRAM?
“So if people don’t get it by the end of August, go to coloradocashback.com. If you haven’t filed yet for ‘21, don’t panic, you still can, but for probably 95-plus percent of your viewers, they’re just going to get the check in the next week or two. It’ll be very simple. I totally get there might be a few people who moved, can’t find their check -- you’ll get it, you won’t lose out on it, if there’s problems and you don’t get it by September, coloradocashback.com and we’ll make sure you get it!
I’LL BE CHECKING MY MAIL! GOV. POLIS, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME TODAY!
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