State, County and Local Sales and Use Taxes
The City of Aspen is a self-collecting entity, meaning it requires vendors to remit taxes directly to the City rather than through another entity (most commonly in Colorado is through the Department of Revenue at the State level). As such, the City requires businesses to use its online portal (MUNIREVS) to file returns and remit payment, with frequency defined as either monthly (most common), quarterly or annually. The deadline for submitting a tax filing is on or before the 20th day of the month following the month in which the tax was collected. Even if there are no taxable sales for a specified period, a tax filing should be completed and submitted for each assigned period.
City of Aspen voters have approved both sales and lodging taxes for business done within City limits. For City sales taxes, portions of these were adopted at varying times, with some extending into perpetuity and others scheduled to sunset unless reaffirmed by voters. Original adoption dates and current expiration dates (when applicable) are denoted in the following chart. Note that the 0.50% Sales Tax for Parks and Open Space was re-affirmed by City voters in the November 8, 2022 election and through that process, the sunset date was removed.
|Voter Approved Tax||Council Ordinance||Current Sunset Date|
|1.00% Sales Tax - Parks and Open Space||Ordinance 16-1970||N/A|
|0.50% Sales Tax - Parks and Open Space||Ordinance 07-2001||N/A|
|0.15% Sales Tax - Transportation||Ordinance 55-2007||N/A|
|0.45% Sales Tax - Affordable Housing / Kids First||Ordinance 81-1989||12/31/2040|
|0.30% Sales Tax - Public Education||Ordinance 84-2012||12/31/2026|
City of Aspen taxes are levied in tandem with State, other local jurisdiction and special district taxes. When combined, the aggregate sales tax rate is currently 9.30%.
|Jurisdiction and Tax Type|
Tax Rate Levied
|City of Aspen Sales Tax|
|Pitkin County Sales Tax|
|Roaring Fork Transit Authority Sales Tax|
|State of Colorado Sales Tax|
|Total Sales Tax|
The City of Aspen sales taxes collected under the defined rates above were adopted with uses specified by voters to only include the following:
Tobacco Product Sales Tax
On November 7, 2017, City of Aspen voters approved ballot measure 2B, adding an additional tax on all tobacco and tobacco related products effective January 1, 2018. The tax was initially established as a 40% tax on all nicotine or tobacco related products or $3.00 per pack of cigarettes. The per pack tax was however approved with an escalator, ratcheting up ten cents annually until it reaches $4.00 per pack in 2028.
|Calendar Year||Tax on Cigarettes (per Pack)||Tax on Other Tobacco / Nicotine Related Products|
|2018||$3.00||40% of retail price|
|2019||$3.10||40% of retail price|
|2020||$3.20||40% of retail price|
|2021||$3.30||40% of retail price|
|2022||$3.40||40% of retail price|
|2023||$3.50||40% of retail price|
This tax was adopted by voters to influence and discourage the use of tobacco by local youth, and came on the heels of City Council adoption of Ordinance 17 (Series 2017) which raised the legal age to purchase tobacco products in Aspen City limits to 21 years old. As such, the ballot question included language that specified the tax revenue “shall be used for the specific purposes of financing health and human services, tobacco related health issues, and addition and substance abuse education and mitigation.”
On November 6, 2007, City of Aspen voters approved the application of a 2.1% use tax on all construction and building materials, which became effective January 10, 2008. This tax is complimentary to and supplemental to sales tax - if the general contractor / owner pays sales tax on construction materials purchased in or delivered to sites within the City of Aspen city limits, an exemption can be granted as double taxation of these materials is not prohibited.
The liability of use tax remittance is shared jointly between the general contractor and the owner of the property. As such, it is important for both parties to be engaged in the permitting and reporting processes associated with the construction, in order to ensure a timely certification of occupancy and tax compliance process is followed.
Generally, the use tax program can be summarized by the following:
- A use tax deposit is paid at the time of issuing a master permit with the Community Development Department and is held until the project has been completed and a certificate of occupancy has been issued.
- For purposes of calculating the use tax deposit, the applicant should take the use tax rate of 2.10% times fifty percent of valuation (excluding the first $100,000) included in the master permit. The fifty percent prorate is an estimation of the taxable construction materials included in the project vs. the cost of services and labor that would not otherwise be taxed.
- Once a CO has been issued, the contractor / owner has 90 days to submit a final reconciliation return that will disclose either the use tax deposit was (1) sufficient to cover the tax obligation; (2) in excess of the tax obligation and the contractor / owner is due a refund; or (3) less than the amount of use tax due and an additional payment is required.
- If the contractor / owner is due a refund, they must submit for a refund of the use tax overpaid within 90 days from the certificate of occupancy being issued, else the entire deposit is forfeited.
- If the contractor / owner deposit was underpaid relative to the final use tax computation, a check should be included with the final reconciliation return and/or be received within the 90-day period following the certificate of occupancy being issued. If payment is not received by this time, penalties (10.0% of unpaid tax) and interest (1.5% per month) shall be assessed.
- The City of Aspen has three (3) years from the issuance of certificate of occupancy to conduct an audit.
Proceeds from the adopted tax were specifically designated in the ballot question to be used for "the cost of operation, maintenance, capital replacement, and improvement of the City transit service and pedestrian amenities" and are therefore deposited into the City's Transportation Fund.