Council to discuss potential pot tax
June 16, 2014
The Aspen City Council is tentatively scheduled to discuss the possibility of local taxation for recreational marijuana sales at a June 24 work session, and due to the confidentiality issues, sales tax information will be withheld from the public.
That's according to Alice Hackney, accounting manager for the city's Finance Department. She said because Aspen only has two recreational marijuana shops — Silverpeak Apothecary and Aspen Green Dragon — confidentiality would be compromised if sales tax information were disclosed.
"If I were to release the information, obviously the other business would immediately know what the other business was doing, and that's proprietary information for those businesses," Hackney said, adding that it will be at the city's discretion to decide when there are enough recreational pot shops for tax records to be divulged.
If the council wants to move forward with a tax, it ultimately will be decided by Aspen's voters. A local tax is not in place currently because Aspen let the 2013 deadline pass without any serious consideration.
Other Colorado municipalities added the question of local taxation to the November ballot in 2013, when voters approved a 15 percent excise tax on wholesale pot and a 10 percent special sales tax on recreational sales. That's in addition to the standard sales tax of 2.9 percent.
Hackney said the work session is a preliminary discussion, a chance for the council to explore the possibility of local taxation. She added that the city has a general idea of what it is collecting on marijuana sales taxes. The council will need that information so it knows how much revenue to expect.
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But right now, medical and recreational marijuana sales tax information is lumped together. It's also only been a few months since Aspen's first recreational sales took place, so there is not a lot of data.
What the potential revenue would fund and at what rate also will be up for discussion.