Where do the tax dollars go?

Across the State of Colorado, we all rely on public services. From Grand Junction to Limon, from Pueblo, to Denver, to Fort Collins, families need access to plowed public roads, public education, our beautiful state parks, health care, job services, clean air and water, and so much more!


However, many of the benefits of these services are invisible to us as residents. On the flip side, we’ve all seen big potholes on the interstate, stood in line at the DMV, or seen harrowing news stories from our prisons and healthcare facilities.


How do our public services work?


The State of Colorado receives funding from three primary income sources: Federal funds, cash funds, and the General Fund.


Federal funds are just what they sound like — funds from the federal government towards specific programs. Cash funds come from various fees for public services, like paying to renew your vehicle registration, and must be spent on specific purposes.


Finally, the Colorado State General Fund is where most of our public services receive primary funding from.



The General Fund draws revenue from two main sources: Sales taxes and income taxes. The remaining 3% comes from more minor sources, like insurance premium taxes.



Once your tax dollars make it to the general fund, here’s how they’re divided up between our various public services:



From here, your tax dollars begin to make their way back to you in the form of public services. Money that goes to HCPF goes right back into Coloradans’ pockets as healthcare insurance assistance. Money that goes to CDOT paves your roads and keeps them clear of snow. Even smaller departments, like CDLE, use these funds to ensure you can access unemployment benefits when you need them.

Take our short tax day quiz to learn more!


Our Quiz


Which of these critical services are paid for with tax dollars?


Which of these critical state services do you rely on most?


Which of these critical state services would you be willing to go without if there is another cut in taxes?

Taxes are an Investment in Ourselves and Our Communities
Why is the infrastructure Coloradans rely on struggling to keep up with our growing state?

While these services can sometimes be invisible in our day to day lives, they are the foundation upon which our state is built. The stronger we build our foundation, the more we all thrive.


Imagine a business owner deciding how to budget for his restaurant that's strapped for cash. He knows there's leaking pipes, weakening floor boards, and mold in the kitchen.


His decision?


A new coat of paint for the dining room. That costs less than repairs, so it's the fiscally responsible thing to do to attract customers, right? Well, customers come for a while, but they start getting sick from the food. They complain about a weird smell. One guy even puts his foot through the floor. Needless to say, business doesn't pick up for long.


For the past few decades, Colorado has opted for a new coat of paint. Our population has been growing steadily, but we haven’t had the resources to make sure our public services can keep up with demand. Old highways have deteriorated, but repairing them comes with a hefty price tag.

We all want our tax dollars to be spent wisely. Is it fiscally responsible to put off these crucial repairs?

No. To keep our economy functioning, we will always need public services. But the longer we procrastinate, the more expensive it will be to repair what we could address today.


Think about it this way: Would you rather pay to fix one pipe in your home now, or pay to repipe your whole house in a year? Fixing the pipe might be expensive in the short term, but it's cheaper than leaving the problem unaddressed.


Whether we invest in our public services or not, our families, communities, and businesses will continue to depend on them. The answer isn’t to ignore the shortcomings in our state. It’s to fix them.

You wouldn’t let your house fall into disrepair. So why would we allow the same to happen to our beautiful state?


Ultimately, taxes are the lifeblood of our entire state’s economy. Without them, our families couldn’t receive crucial assistance, our communities wouldn’t be safe, and our businesses wouldn’t be able to attract customers.


If we’re proud of our gorgeous forests and plains, if we’re proud of our small businesses, if we’re proud of our hard working families, we should also be proud of our role in making these things possible. Regardless of our individual contributions as Coloradans, we all have one thing in common: we pay the taxes that make Colorado run.


This tax season, let’s consider what our tax dollars actually mean for our state: better roads, safer communities, a cleaner environment, and so much more. Taxes aren’t a punishment, nor are they a chore. They’re the part we all play in making the State of Colorado a place we can call home.

We know the importance of our public services, but do your family and friends know?

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