State, County and Local Tax Information
The City of Aspen is a self-collecting entity, meaning it requires vendors to remit taxes directly to the City rather than through the 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.
Sales and Lodging Tax
City of Aspen voters have approved both sales and lodging taxes for business done within City limits. Portions of these two taxes 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.
|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||12/31/2025|
|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|
|1.00% Lodging Tax - Tourism Promotion||Ordinance 45-2000||N/A|
|1.00% Lodging Tax - Tourism Promotion (50%) / Transportation (50%)||Ordinance 31-2010||N/A|
City of Aspen taxes are levied in tandem with State, other local jurisdiction and special district taxes. When combined, the aggregate sales and lodging tax rates are currently 9.30% and 11.30%, respectively.
|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|
|City of Aspen Lodging Tax (Additional on Room Sales)|
|Total Sales and Lodging Tax|
The City of Aspen sales and lodging 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|
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 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.
Real Estate Transfer Taxes (RETTs)
0.5% RETT: On May 8, 1978, voters were asked and supported a 0.5% real estate transfer tax for the "purpose of renovation, reconstruction and maintenance of the Wheeler Opera House and for the purpose of supporting the visual and performing arts." This tax, which was first levied January 1, 1979, was originally adopted with a twenty year sunset, but has been extended under voter approval through December 31, 2039. Note - On November 2, 2021, City of Aspen voters were asked and supported expanded use of the 0.5% RETT to include both the the arts programming provided at the Red Brick Building and the associated operational and maintenance costs of said building, plus the removal of the previous $100,000 cap on arts grants out of this revenue source.
1.0% RETT: City of Aspen voters additionally approved a 1.0% real estate transfer tax for the purpose of "addressing the issue of the current housing shortage that vacant land and existing buildings must be purchased and renovated and construction of new housing must be commenced immediately" and became effective July 1, 1989. The application of this tax included a slight reduction to the consideration amount to be taxed, allowing for the first $100,000 to be excluded from taxation, and allowed for all existing affordable deed restricted housing units to be exempt. This tax continues to have a sunset provision in place, and absent an extention by voter approval, it will expire following December 31, 2040.
WHO IS RESPONSIBLE: Transfer taxes are the responsibility of the purchasing party. If the tax is not paid to the City, the City is able to file a lien against the property to ensure eventual collection. To obtain clear title, purchasing parties should individually or through a title company submit the following documentation for consideration:
- A completed computation or exemption form that can be found using the links below:
- The signed and dated deed that will eventually be filed with Pitkin County Clerk and Recorders Office
- A TD-1000 if the transaction is a for consideration conveyance
- Any additional documents such as operating agreements, trust documents, death certificates, etc. that may be needed to support exemption requests.
EXEMPTIONS: As denoted in the City Municipal Code, Section 23.48.040, there are instances where the imposition of either real estate transfer tax does not apply. While the list of exemptions can be more thoroughly outlined in the Code, a paraphrasing of the general allowances are as follows:
- Any conveyance wherein the US, any agency or instrumentaltiy thereof, the State, County, City, municipality, district or other political subdivision of the State is either the grantor or the grantee;
- Any conveyance wherein the grantee has been organized, operated and maintained solely and exclusively for charitable or religious purposes;
- Any conveyance in consequence of a gift of such property, where no consideration other than love and affection, charitable donation or nominal compensation is evidenced;
- Any document terminating or evidencing termination of joint tenancy except where additional consideration of value is paid in connection with such termination;
- Any transfer of title or change of interest by reason of death, will or decree of distribution;
- Transfers made pursuant to mergers or consolidation of corporations for no consideration other than cancellation or surrender of the subsidiary's stock;
- And conveyance made and delivered without consideration for the purpose of confirming, correcting, modifying or supplementing a transfer previously recorded;
- Any decree or order of the court of record determining the resting title;
- Any deed granting or conveying title to cemetery lots;
- Any lease of any real property (or assignment or transfer of any interest in any such lease) provided such lease by its terms does not constitute a de facto conveyance of the subject property;
- Any mineral deed or royalty deed;
- Transfers to secure a debt or other obligation, or transfers or release of property which is security for a debt or other obligation;
- Any executory contract for the sale of real property under which the vendee is entitled to or does take possession thereof without acquiring title thereto, or any assignment or cancellation of any such contract;
- Any deed or conveyance under execution, sale, or foreclosure sale under a power sale or court decree of lien foreclosure; sheriff's deed; public trustee deed or treasurer's deed or deed in lieu of foreclosure provided that the person holding the obligation or instrument upon which the proceeding or sale is based intends, as market conditions will allow, to resell the property in order to satisfy the obligation. If the property is not sold within two (2) years, or within any extension of such time beyond two (2) years as the Finance Director shall allow for good cause shown, then the transfer shall be considered an "artifice" as provided for in this Chapter and taxable as provided for in this Chapter. The Finance Director may place a lien on the subject property equal to the amount of tax that may be levied or other form of security acceptable to the Finance Director.