Telecom Reforms Get Traction

DENVER, Colo. -- Senate Majority Leader Mark Scheffel (R-Parker) continued his efforts to bring Colorado’s telecommunications sector into the 21st Century today, with passage by the Senate Finance Committee of two bills that will help do that.

The first bill, SB-222, will further encourage expansion of broadband service in rural Colorado by raising a cap on the amount of sales and use tax refunds internet providers can claim on equipment installed in sparsely-populated parts of the state. The previous cap of $1 million in total annual claims will increase to $5 million if the bill becomes law.

"I do think this bill will result in the deployment of more broadband infrastructure across Colorado by giving modest tax relief to those companies that serve under-served areas," Scheffel said after the vote. "Although I would have liked to see the existing tax refund cap raised as a way of further encouraging broadband expansion, I also recognize that this is an incremental process and that budget constraints make a lower limit necessary."

The second measure, SB-230, updates decades-old telephone taxing policies that create disparities in how telecom providers are taxed. This bill exempts from property tax all state assessed intangible personal property owned by telephone companies. Starting in property tax year 2015, the bill exempts 20 percent of telephone company intangible property, with additional 20 percent increments in subsequent fiscal years until all intangible property is exempt in 2019.

"Colorado’s telecom taxing policies are an archaic, unfair and anti-competitive relic of a bygone era, when telephone services were provided by regulated monopolies," explained Scheffel. "This bill recognizes that times have changed and helps bring Colorado’s telecom policies up to date, by bringing equity and fairness to how all telecom providers are taxed."

Both bills will next be heard by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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