County refusing to refund occupational tax

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County Commissioners are refusing to refund $48 million to people who work in the county.

Tuesday, county commissioners announced they had no plans to refund money collected earlier this year under an occupational tax that was declared illegal in January.  Attorneys for Jefferson County say the new occupational tax passed by the Alabama Legislature in August contains a retroactive clause which allows the county to keep the money collected since January 1.

However, attorneys who filed the lawsuit, which lead to the old occupational tax being declared illegal, filed a motion with the judge Tuesday, asking the judge to sanction the county for refusing to refund workers money collected after the tax was declared illegal.

"It is easy to see through Jefferson County's charade... in order to delay that reality, Jefferson County will do, say, argue, or file anything -no matter how frivolous-so they can keep their illegally gotten gains for a just a few days longer," the motion states.

County commissioners say the law passed by the legislature in August made it clear the old tax was never illegal.

"I think the bill they passed clearly states that," said Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins. "We intend to pursue that."

Jefferson County commissioners are also concerned a $48 million refund could harm county services.

"$40 million or so would make a difference," Bobby Humphryes, Jefferson Co. Commissioner said.

"We are looking at all of our legal options to make sure the county is not going to suffer any more than it should or has to," said Jefferson County Commissioner William Bell. "That is one of the areas we are looking at."