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COLORADO SUN: How an obscure tax case became a $250 million political fight at the end of the legislative session

In a momentous session, Senate Bill 233 may have been the most important bill of the year that few outside the Gold Dome even noticed.

By Brian Eason

With only days left in the 2019 legislative session, Colorado lawmakers were presented with an extraordinary plea from the Polis administration: Pass a law to help the state’s Department of Revenue win an obscure corporate income tax lawsuit, or risk losing hundreds of millions of dollars to what it viewed as a tax loophole for shell companies.

Ultimately, lawmakers stopped short of the sort of declaration that Polis wanted, opting instead to simply change the law to provide more clarity to businesses in the future.

After that late compromise was struck, the state’s largest business group, the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, dropped its opposition. Nonetheless, the process left much to be desired in the eyes of some business advocates.

“If this was a significant concern by the administration, by the department, a bill should’ve been brought much sooner in the legislative process,” Loren Furman, the chamber’s chief lobbyist, said in an interview. Furman said Department of Revenue officials meet with a coalition of business and tax experts before each session to discuss important legislation, but stakeholders received no advance warning of the measure before it was introduced April 2, a month before the end of the session.