Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado, who is sponsoring a bill that would repeal the Trump tax cuts, thereby effectively raising tax rates on most Americans and businesses, recently reconfirmed to a reporter in his home state that for at least five years he paid no income taxes at all from 2001 to 2005.
The issue resurfaced in a recent debate as Polis is running for governor. The five-term congressman is one of the ten wealthiest members of Congress.
However, a repeal of the tax law would be costly to the state he hopes to lead.
Shortly after the tax bill was passed in December, Colorado state budget experts estimated the changes would result in anywhere from $196 to $340 million in new receipts to the state's coffers.
The Polis campaign did not return a comment on whether the congressman was willing to let Colorado forego those automatic gains.
"The newly passed tax bill would generate more money than the sales tax boost proposed by a bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers earlier this year to fund transportation needs," a house editorial by the Denver Post said just after the bill was signed into law by the president. "Republicans in the state Senate refused to send that tax increase to voters. But this new revenue would come without that difficult hurdle. Thanks, Congress!"
The tax boost to Colorado is also roughly equivalent to the $225 million in new annual funding the general assembly dedicated to the state's anemic public employees retirement fund this session.
Polis's bill drew a rebuke from the president on Twitter.
"A Democratic lawmaker just introduced a bill to Repeal the GOP Tax Cuts (no chance)" Trump tweeted. "This is too good to be true for Republicans…Remember, the Nancy Pelosi Dems are also weak on Crime, the Border and want to be gentle and kind to MS-13 gang members…not good!"
"I proudly wrote the bill to repeal @RealDonaldTrump's tax giveaways," Polis replied on Twitter. "Simple choice this election: President and GOP lose by cozying up to corporate special interests. We win by standing up for students, public schools, and families. RT if you agree."
Local CBS reporter Shaun Boyd pressed the congressman on his personal taxes, issues which surfaced in his first congressional run from 2008.
"You recently introduced legislation that would repeal the Republican tax law which you say is a giveaway to special interests and corporate welfare," Boyd began. "For five years though, before you entered Congress, you paid no federal income tax and have used onshore and offshore Cayman Island accounts to avoid paying taxes. Critics contend a repeal of that tax reform law would amount to a tax increase of thousands of dollars a year for the average family in Colorado. How do you square, you know, you not paying taxes with raising taxes on middle class families?"
"Well first of all, I paid a heck of a lot of taxes in the years I made money," Polis replied. "When you don't make money, you can't pay taxes, and since I've been in public service my expenses have been greater than my income, and that's simply the fact, and I think that's, you know, that's completely appropriate."
"Look, the Republican convoluted special-interest tax giveaway actually raised taxes for many Colorado families," he continued. "You know, for everyone you talk to that it might save a little there's another family that costs more. Whether it's not being able to write off losses from floods or wildfires or it's the fact that they have deductions that they can no longer attribute."
In continuing his answer, Polis said he was calling for forgiveness of all college debt, claiming it would be more helpful to more Coloradans than the Republican tax cut. In a handful of tweets, he has drawn comparisons between the $1.9 trillion in national debt incurred by the tax cut as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office, and an estimated $1.3 trillion in outstanding student loans.
If we repeal the #GOPTaxScam’s corporate and special interest giveaways, we can cancel out all student loan debt- and still have money left over. #StudentsOverSpecialInterests pic.twitter.com/vVTTfpUeLu
— Rep. Jared Polis (@RepJaredPolis) May 23, 2018
Presently, it remains unclear if the 2001-2005 years were the only returns in which Polis paid no income tax. The campaign did not respond to an opportunity for comment requesting more specifics of his tax circumstances since he has been a congressman beginning in 2009.
A recent poll shows Polis leading his closest competitor, former state treasurer Cary Kennedy, 34 to 23 percent, with 29 percent still undecided. Mail balloting is already underway and the election concludes June 26.
According to a report in 2008 when the financial issues first surfaced for him, Polis released several years of tax returns, which showed in 2006 "he reported $96.5 million in adjusted gross income and paid nearly $13.6 million in taxes."
The release of the tax records in 2008 also showed Polis had been using an investment fund registered in Delaware, which included an offshore account in the Cayman Islands. That fund was wound down the following year.
The congressman also spoke from the floor of the House in 2010 about his pride in paying taxes.
"That's why every year, in April, when I pay mine, I feel that same lump in my throat and in my belly as every American," Polis said at the time. "But I know deep inside that I would not trade it for anything else. And I am proud that I have this opportunity to be able to contribute to this greatest of the great countries and help America continue to be a beacon unto the nations and a light for future generations."