Press Release

Estes Park EDC Board Member Spotlight – Kent Smith

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Kent Smith, a fifth generation sign-craftsman, is a Colorado native who grew up in Englewood, attended Colorado State College and the University of Northern Colorado with degrees in history, historical research, economics and geography.  Smith Sign Studios was opened in 1928 by Kent’s father Howard.  As a result, Kent has been continuously active in the sign business for over 60 years. Kent returned full time to the trade in 1972 (taking over for his father) after a few years in education. The Smith family sign and gilding heritage can also be traced to Howard’s father Abner, who was the sign and “varnish coach” painter for the Rio Grande Railroad.  Abner gained his sign and gilding training in his own brother’s sign business and his father’s wheelwright business.

Kent is no stranger when it comes to civic engagement and volunteering.  He’s had memberships or been involved in the Greeley/Weld Chamber of Commerce, National Civic League Vision Together Program, Weld Citizens Action Network, Greeley Urban Renewal Authority Citizens Board, Economic Development Action Partnership, Lions Club, Colorado Historical Society, Civil War Roundtable, National Railway Historical Society, Colorado Railroad Historical Foundation, Greeley Area Sign Association, Evans Area Chamber of Commerce, Estes Valley Partners for Commerce, Estes Area Lodging Association, League of Women Voters and --believe it or not-- other organizations, associations and committees.  

He’s also a Certified Larimer SBDC Consultant. “The reason I decided to become a business consultant is that I’ve been doing so for over 50 years,” says Smith.  “We encounter many businesses that need some direction and advice when we’re doing sign projects for them. I’ve learned businesses not only need help with signs but also with most of their other business operations.”        

Kent joined the Estes Park EDC Board of Directors in 2015 and has since held the position of Chair on the Business Incubator Committee. “Everyone doing business in the Estes Valley should be attuned to economic development because it’s not about just helping a single business succeed.  Every economic gain benefits everyone else. That’s why it’s important for me to be involved in the Estes Park EDC.”  Kent also believes that economic development shouldn’t be left to chance. That’s why he believes supporting Estes Park EDC and engaging the issues is so important to our community.

Please Comment on New Colorado Online Sales Tax Rules

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Colorado’s proposed regulations on collecting local sales taxes are threatening many small businesses that have found no way to comply.  Denver Post, “Small businesses brace for Colorado’s new online sales tax rules some say could put them out of business,” Nov. 3, 2018. 

How will these changes affect you and your business?  Have you found a solution, or will the costs of in-state online sales exceed the benefits?  Please let us know how you are responding and how costs of compliance will affect your business. info@estesparkedc.com

Here are details on the proposed regulations, under “emergency regulations.”   https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/tax/tax-regulations

“The Department plans to hear these rules at a permanent rule-making hearing on November 30, 2018; however, we want to solicit feedback on these regulations before we move forward with permanently adopting these rules. If you have comments or suggestions on these rules, please email those to dor_taxrules@state.co.us by 5:00 PM on November 30, 2018.” Ideally, submit your comments before the November 30 public hearing.

If you submit comments, please share them we us at info@estesparkedc.com. Below are comments Estes Park EDC submitted prior to the October 30 public hearing being cancelled. We are solely concerned with the impact of these rules on Colorado in-state sales tax collection. We are learning more each week. We are learning more each week. We will revise and update these comments to ensure they are accurate and clear, so your input is important to us.

Comments to Colo. Dep’t of Revenue

The Estes Park Economic Development Corporation (Estes Park EDC) hears from our local businesses on a variety of the challenges they face.  In the past couple of weeks, the proposed Sales Tax Regulation Changes have emerged as a substantial threat to numerous small businesses in Estes Park.  Quite simply, it is unmanageable for a small business to collect sales taxes for every local jurisdiction in Colorado.

  1. The GAO estimated that “state and local governments could gain from about $8 billion to about $13 billion in 2017 if states were given authority to require sales tax collection from all remote sellers. This is about 2 to 4 percent of total 2016 state and local government general sales and gross receipts tax revenues.” The same GAO study estimated that overall business compliance costs for remote sales tax collections would range from 13.0 to 16.4 percent of total revenue collected.  See GAO, “Report to Congressional Requesters: Sales Taxes, States Could Gain Revenue from Expanded Authority, but Businesses Are Likely to Experience Compliance Costs,”  at highlights cover page (GAO–18–114, Nov. 2017) (https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/689187.pdf).  The percentage costs imposed on small businesses would be higher.

  2. In Colorado there are 72 cities or towns who, as home rule municipalities, collect their own sales tax.  Each one of these municipalities has separate rules regarding sales tax licensing and remittance requirements.  The proposed regulations in no way address collection of sales taxes by these jurisdictions, meaning that the proposed rules do not reduce the burden on Colorado small businesses.  Based upon the existing information booklet, licensing fees alone for a Colorado business selling into these local jurisdictions would exceed $1,200 per year.  

  3. For jurisdictional reasons, in compliance with Wayfair decision,  the regulations provide that out of state businesses are only required to collect and remit Colorado local sales taxes if: “in the previous calendar year or the current calendar year: (A) the retailer’s gross revenue from the sale of tangible personal property or services delivered into Colorado exceeds one hundred thousand dollars; or (B) the retailer sold tangible personal property or services for delivery into Colorado in two hundred or more separate transactions.” 

  4. The current proposed regulations do not create a level playing field between in-state and out-of-state businesses. There is no similar limit that pertains to local Colorado retailers that rely primarily on their in-store sales, tied to a specific physical location. Since the burden of complying with 75 Colorado-based jurisdictions is substantial, this is an inequitable burden on Colorado small businesses, and favors out-of-state businesses. If a similar threshold were adopted for Colorado businesses, it is likely that many small retailers in Estes Park would be exempt from collection for being under the $100,000 threshold.  Please consider that a much higher threshold would be reasonable for all small businesses.  See GAO Report, pages 25-26.

  5. Although the Wayfair decision apparently approves it, the 200 transactions threshold available to out-of-state retailers would still be onerous both for out-of-state and  for Colorado retailers, such as those in Estes Park, whose transactions are frequently less than $100 or even $50. It would not be a sufficient exemption for small businesses.

  6. Without the ability to comply on their own, small businesses will be forced to use online platforms such as Amazon to sell their products online, sending substantial additional revenue out of state and imposing higher direct costs on Colorado small businesses.

In short, the Department of Revenue is imposing a substantial regulatory burden that will shut small Colorado retailers out of the online sales business—or force them to incur the cost of using out-of-state national sales platforms to make Colorado sales. The time for compliance is also very short.  

I understand the desire to legally increase sales tax revenue.  Nonetheless, as the National Taxpayers Union has commented to Congress, “billions of dollars in interstate commerce and millions of small business people face the threat of back-tax bills, complicated collection obligations, and nationwide tax and audit responsibilities simply for having the temerity to use the internet to reach buyers.”   

In the long term, undermining small business online sales in Colorado likely will be a detriment to municipalities that depend upon sales tax receipts from their Main Street retailers.

Thank you for your consideration of these written comments.

Sincerely,

Jon Nicholas

Estes Park EDC

970-577-1031

Please feel free to contact me or Vice President Adam Shake directly on this issue.