A tax on lift tickets in Colorado?
August 29, 2008
VAIL, Colo. ” Eagle County commissioners want a tax on lift ticket sales in Colorado to pay for roads, forest work or housing.
Commissioner Peter Runyon has asked Colorado Counties Inc. to lobby for a provision that would allow counties to levy a “use tax” on ski-lift tickets.
Reached Thursday, Runyon said he envisions a statewide ” not countywide ” tax on lift tickets. Lift tickets are exempt from sales taxes, but they should be subject to some taxation, Runyon said.
“Exempting the ski industry from sales tax was put forward in the ’60s when the ski industry was very small and the state Legislature wanted to encourage and promote it,” Runyon said. “I would argue that the ski industry is very much on its feet and has probably grown a few extra feet.”
Voters would have to approve a new tax.
“I think it would be an ideal opportunity for the skiing public to help with some of the severe problems that are associated with their recreation activities,” Runyon said.
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Revenue from a ski tax should be used for transportation, forest work or worker housing, Runyon said.
Transportation needs are tied to skiing, as many of the state’s ski resorts are along Interstate 70, Runyon said.
“CDOT is headed for a crisis,” Runyon said. “We all are. If you think the roads are bad now, just wait if we as the state of Colorado don’t step up and do something.”
Runyon said the tax would be similar to the town of Vail’s ski area admissions tax, which is a 4 percent tax on the price of lift tickets and passes. The town generated $3 million from the tax in 2007, town Finance Director Judy Camp said.
The tax was lumped into the posted cost of lift tickets, which reached $90 for a single day last year at Vail Mountain.
Lift tickets and passes are not subject to local, county and state sales tax because they are not tangible property, Camp said.
Counties submitted dozens of proposed bills, including the ski tax, to Colorado Counties Inc. over the summer. Over the next few months, Colorado Counties Inc. will winnow the proposed bills from about 100 to about 25, and then the group will lobby for the passage of those bills during the legislative session.
Runyon said the proposal was put forward by all three Eagle County commissioners. Commissioner Sara Fisher declined to comment on the proposal, and Commissioner Arn Menconi could not be reached.
“Nobody likes to pay taxes,” Runyon said. “I certainly don’t. But if we don’t support infrastructure, our economy is going to suffer.”
Officials from Vail Resorts, operators of Vail, Beaver Creek, Keystone and Breckenridge, could not be reached for comment. A Colorado Ski Country USA spokeswoman did not return a phone call.
Colorado had more than 12 million skier visits last year.