If your wallet is already feeling a little lighter this year, that's because in November, Denver voters overwhelmingly approved ballot measures that called for raising taxes to pay for an array of items, including drug and mental health services, food education for Denver's youth, scholarships, park improvements and more. As a result, sales and use taxes on general items went up .66 percent starting January 1.
Earlier in 2018, Mayor Michael Hancock had approved a tax hike on recreational marijuana to help pay for affordable housing. And on top of all that, state park entrance fees have increased, as have RTD bus and train ticket prices.
Here to do the math for us is Courtney Law, communications director of Denver's Department of Finance. "Beginning [on January 1, four voter-approved sales-tax measures took effect in Denver," she says. "These changes will take the city’s sales-tax rate from 3.65 percent to 4.31 percent. Combined with 2.9 percent state sales tax, 1 percent RTD sales tax, and .10 percent sales tax for the Cultural Facilities District, the new effective sales-tax rate that will be collected in the City and County of Denver will change from 7.65 percent to 8.31 percent."
We've broken down all the new taxes and fee hikes so that you can adjust your 2019 budgets accordingly. If this list makes you a little queasy, keep reading until the end for some good news....
State Park Entrance Fees
The state's 41 parks needed a little more TLC than they were getting, so the legislature passed a bill allowing Colorado Parks and Wildlife to increase entrance fees. Daily vehicles passes are now $8 to $10, a dollar increase from 2018. Annual vehicle passes are now $80, up ten bucks from last year. Visit the CPW's website for a full list of fee changes
The Regional Transportation District has raised prices for bus and train tickets, making Denver's rates the most expensive in the nation, according to Streetsblog
. New adult fares are $3, up from $2.60, regional fares have increased from $4.50 to $5.25, and a ride to or from the airport on the A Line will cost you $10.50, an increase of $1.50. But RTD is now offering a 70 percent discount to all riders between the ages of six and nineteen, as well as other discounts for low-income travelers. Find more information about RTD's new fares at its website
Housing advocates cheered when Denver City Council approved Hancock's plan to double the city's Affordable Housing Fund
, from $15 million to $30 million. But marijuana industry folks weren't too excited: The plan depends on a 2 percent increase in the recreational tax rate on cannabis, from 3.3 percent to 5.5 percent
, which will generate $8 million per year. Coupled with the general sales-tax rate of 4.31 percent, the new hike makes rec taxable at 9.81 percent in Denver...on top of state taxes.