Colorado’s Richest Man Determined To Cash In At Your Expense

Gazillionaire Phil Anschutz, owner of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

We took note back in July of a lawsuit filed by billionaire Phil Anschutz, Colorado’s richest rich guy and megadonor to Republican Party causes near and far, seeking to claw back roughly $8 million in income taxes Anschutz believed he was entitled to under the CARES Act. Anschutz lost his case, with the state contending that Anschutz’s retroactive theory of the law’s application was wrong, and also that if Anschutz prevailed it could result in significant fiscal trouble since Anschutz’s refund (and others who might follow under his interpretation of the law) would have to come out of allocated revenue.

Well folks, as the Colorado Sun’s Daniel Ducassi reports, Anschutz must really need the money because:

Colorado billionaire Phil Anschutz and his wife, Nancy, want a state appeals court to revive their lawsuit seeking a nearly $8 million tax refund.

…Denver District Judge J. Eric Elliff dismissed the case as he sided with the Colorado Department of Revenue in a ruling issued earlier this month. Elliff concluded that it was reasonable for state tax officials to interpret the state’s tax laws as incorporating changes to federal tax laws strictly on a forward-looking basis.

…Part of what influenced Elliff’s thinking were the implications of the state having to send out numerous refund checks for prior tax years if he were to agree with the Anschutzes’ interpretation, which the judge described as “wanting.”

Elliff noted “the unavoidable reality of plaintiffs’ interpretation is that the refund associated with the prior tax year would have to be borne by the one in which it was claimed. Plaintiffs are asking for a check, and that money has to come from somewhere.” [Pols emphasis]

As readers know, Colorado by necessity (see: the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) runs one of the tightest fiscal ships of any state in America. There’s no extra money sequestered by the state for the purpose of handing out surprise tax refunds to billionaires. If Anschutz were to prevail with his lawsuit, the state would be on the hook for millions to Anschutz plus an unknown but potentially budget-busting additional amount to cover all the rich guys who would suddenly decide they need a tax refund too.

For Anschutz, the value of pursuing this lawsuit diminishes with every billable hour paid to lawyers and accountants–but with $8 million at stake, Anschutz clearly has some incentive to keep sinking money into the prospect.

Optically, however, it’s not great. If you’re at all sympathetic toward the state’s longstanding fiscal precariousness, which even a lot of Republicans claim to be, the state’s richest man who also just happens to be the sugar daddy of Colorado Republicans doing his best to bust Colorado’s budget for a multimillion-dollar payout fulfills some pretty distasteful stereotypes.

Reverse philanthropy, if you will.

3 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DenverLett says:

    I thought he was Colorado's greediest man. Didn't know he was the richest too.

  2. DavidThi808 says:

    The fact that the state can't afford it is irrelevant. The question should solely be, is he legally entitled to it.

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