Colorado is set to invest more in affordable housing than ever before

Amid a sea of housing-related bills this session, there are two that would directly invest public dollars to build units, subsidize rent or provide assistance to homebuyers, and a third to expand an existing tax credit.

The most significant is House Bill 1245, a measure that would generate up to $50 million a year for the state’s housing development grant fund by revamping a tax break claimed by retailers.

Here’s how it would work: Today, businesses can claim a tax break known as a vendor fee to help offset the administrative costs of collecting sales taxes. And under the bill, most businesses would actually get to keep a larger share of the taxes they collect because the vendor fee would increase to 4% of taxes collected from 3.33%.

However, the amount a business can keep as a tax break would be capped at $1,000 per month, meaning the state’s largest retailers — those that do at least $12 million a year in sales — would lose money. According to an analysis by Rep. Mike Weissman, the bill’s sponsor, about 98% of businesses would get to keep more money under the changes. But the largest retailers — including Amazon, Walmart and Target — would pay so much more that it would generate new revenue — about $50 million for the housing fund.

Colorado is set to invest more in affordable housing than ever before. And it nearly spent even more.