The 2022 Republican nominee for governor of Colorado, Heidi Ganahl, has proposed eliminating Colorado’s income tax, calling it a “big bold idea to take us to zero income tax.” On September 30th at a gubernatorial candidates’ forum hosted by Colorado Concern, the moderator, Dean Singleton, pressed Ganahl on her plan for accomplishing this. In response, she outlined specific policy proposals that she argued would make it possible. Still unconvinced, Singleton told Ganahl that her idea was “bullshit.”
Ganahl’s Democratic opponent in the gubernatorial race, Governor Jared Polis, has also stated publicly that he supports zero income tax for Colorado. When asked what the ideal income tax rate should be during a political conference in August 2021, he responded, “It should be zero.” He most recently brought the topic up during an interview with CRP news on October 4th of this year. Similar to Ganahl who called this a “big bold idea,” in the interview Polis called it a “big sort of audacious idea.” In contrast to Ganahl, however, Polis’s proposal to eliminate Colorado’s income tax did not draw a word of criticism from Singleton. In fact, the moderator did not even bring it up.
The mission of the Independence Institute is to empower individuals and to educate citizens, legislators, and opinion-makers about public policies that enhance personal and economic freedom. We agree with both gubernatorial candidates when they propose eliminating Colorado’s income tax and suggest that doing so would encourage economic growth in the state. In an opinion editorial last summer, Independence Institute launched its own Path to Zero income tax plan. If executed properly, we also believe such a tax policy change would promote personal and economic freedom by giving Coloradans more control over their own money.
With this report and as part of our mission to educate the public through quality research and analysis, Independence Institute’s fiscal policy center explores each of the nominees’ plans for eliminating Colorado’s income tax. It outlines each candidate’s plan using the details provided by Ganahl and Polis. It then analyzes the feasibility of each plan, both qualitatively and quantitatively. Finally, it briefly describes Independence Institute’s Path to Zero proposal and compares each candidate’s plan against it.