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Modernize the Exemption for Nonprofits' Occasional Sales

Apr 18, 2019


Even though Colorado law allows charitable nonprofits to be exempt from state-collected sales taxes on items they buy, nonprofits must collect these sales taxes on most goods and services they sell.

Nonprofit leaders must devote resources to maintaining sales tax licenses, collecting sales taxes for state-collected and home rule jurisdictions, and complying with reporting requirements. For small nonprofits run by volunteers or a few staff, complying with these requirements can take time away from providing services or generating more revenues for growth.

Since 1995, Colorado law has also exempted nonprofits from collecting taxes on occasional sales to help nonprofits manage this responsibility. Occasional sales are defined as follows:

  • funds raised through these sales are used in the course of the organization's charitable service
  • funds raised through these net sales do not exceed $25,000 during any one calendar year; and
  • sales take place for no more than 12 days, whether consecutive or not, during any calendar year.

If nonprofits exceed either the $25,000 or the 12 day threshold, then they are required to obtain a Colorado sales tax license and collect and remit these taxes to the state. Nonprofits are required to collect taxes and report for the entire year if they exceed either threshold. 

Typically, donations are not considered sales. However, the fair market value of any benefits received by the donor in return for a donation are usually taxable and can't be deducted on federal taxes.

Issues with the exemption

Because the exemption has not been updated since 1995, the value of this policy has eroded over time. $25,000 in 1995 dollars has the same purchasing power as $15,000 in 2018. As a result, fewer nonprofits are exempted even if they are small or have limited fundraising activity. Additionally, the 12 day requirement has not been changed even though many nonprofits conduct sales throughout the year on the internet.

About the bill

HB 19-1323 modernizes the exemption by:

  • Adjusting the exemption amount to $45,000 of net proceeds from sales;
  • Eliminating the 12-day limit on occasional sales;
  • Clarifying that otherwise taxable commodities and services are covered by the exemption in addition to personal property;
  • Clarifying that sales taxes are due on or after the date the exemption amount is exceeded.

Eliminating this requirement also simplifies how nonprofits track their revenues from sales and determine if they exceed the revenue threshold and must obtain a Colorado sales tax license.

HB 19-1323

[@ Rep's Twitter handle], Vote yes on #HB1323 to adjust #nonprofits' occasional sales exemption for inflation & apply it to many online sales. Modernizing the exemption devotes more charitable funds to communities rather than taxes. #coleg

How you can help

1323 has passed the House Finance Committee and will next be heard by the House Appropriations Committee.

Ask your Representative to vote YES on HB 19-1323 to modernize the occasional sales exemption!

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Call your Legislator

Rep. [last name], I ask you to vote Yes on HB 19-1323 to modernize the tax exemption for occasional sales by nonprofit organizations. 

Since 1995, nonprofits that hold sales for more than 12 days per year, or raise more than $25,000, are required to obtain a Colorado sales tax license. Because the exemption has not been adjusted for inflation, the purchasing power of $25,000 in 1995 is equal to $15,000 today. Also, regardless of how much is sold, the exemption would not apply to many online sales because they occur for more than 12 days. 

[If possible, give an example of items sold by your nonprofit and how this would exemption would apply to your organization's tax reporting].

1323 adjusts the exemption amount to $45,000 to account for inflation and eliminates the 12 day rule. By modernizing the occasional sales exemption, nonprofits like mine can devote more of the funds we raise to serving our communities. Please vote yes!  

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