Another kind of county

Brief by Central Staff

Tax Breaks – August 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Another kind of county

The easiest answer to “what kind of county do you live in?” might be “an economically depressed one where the state offers special tax breaks to create jobs.”

This is true whether you’re in Saguache County, one of the poorest in the state, or in Custer County, fourth-fastest growing county in the nation.

Back in the depressed ’80s, the state set up “enterprise zones” with special tax breaks to encourage investment.

The zones might have made some sense then, but they now cover 70% of Colorado, which gets plenty of current publicity for a strong job market and low unemployment.

Around here, only Park County is not an enterprise zone. Lake, Gunnison, Chaffee, Fré mont, Custer, Saguache, Mineral, Rio Grande, Alamosa, Conejos, and Costilla are all enterprise zones.

Businesses get breaks on sales taxes for new equipment, a credit for spending on research and development, refunds for renovating old buildings, etc.

And if you donate to an enterprise-zone charity, like an ice arena or a golf course, you get a state tax credit.

While there may be valid arguments for a state policy to encourage economic development in de pressed areas, it’s preposterous that 70% of a booming state somehow qualifies for enterprise-zone status.

Why not just cut taxes across the board, and then, if some areas still need special assistance, find a way to provide it?