Understanding City Sales and Use Taxes

In 2018 the City of Boulder launched a Citywide Retail Study to determine if the goods and services available in Boulder meet the needs of its residents and workers. Earlier this year, a consultant was hired to help conduct community surveys and other data collection, analyze the data, benchmark Boulder’s retail performance to its neighboring communities, and formulate recommendations. A final report is expected this summer.

The Boulder Chamber and the Boulder Economic Council have been involved in the Citywide Retail Study from its inception and will continue to provide our input as the consultant’s recommendations are considered by city staff and City Council.

To learn more about the Citywide Retail Study, click here.

Sales and use taxes are the single largest source of revenue for the City of Boulder, accounting for 38% of the city’s $359M 2019 budget. The next two largest revenue sources are utility fees (18%) and property taxes (13%).

Detailed information and analysis of city sales and use taxes is provided in a monthly Revenue Report produced by the City of Boulder’s Finance Department. The report includes data on the following taxes, among others:

  • Retail sales taxes
  • Construction use taxes
  • Business use taxes
  • Marijuana taxes
  • Sugar sweetened drink taxes
  • Accommodations taxes

Informative descriptions of these taxes are provided in the report. Click here to view.

The report published for December 2018 presents data for all of last year. Some interesting takeaways from the report include:

  • Sales taxes collected last year were 2.37% above 2017: $106.6M vs. $104M (The Denver metro area inflation rate rose 2.73% in 2018)
  • Construction use taxes (based on the value of construction projects) last year rose 31.5% over 2017: $13M vs $9.9M
  • Business use taxes (based on furniture, equipment and other business purchases) were down 8% from 2017: $13M vs $14M
  • Marijuana taxes of $5M were collected last year, up 3.7% over 2017
  • Sugar sweetened drink taxes were $4.9M in 2018, the first full year they were collected
  • Accommodations taxes (based on hotel and other overnight lodging) last year rose 15% over 2017: $8M vs $7M
  • Downtown sales/use taxes of $10.7M were down 1.6% from 2017
  • Twenty Ninth Street sales/use taxes of $9M were up 3.5% from 2017

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