Court hearing to decide Jeffco refunds' fate

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - A court hearing was held Friday afternoon to decide if Jefferson County workers get refunds from an illegal occupational tax or not.
Attorneys for Jefferson County filed motions saying there should be no refunds to those who continue to pay the job tax after it was declared unconstitutional in January.

Earlier this week Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins says the county should not have to pay up to $48 million. "I'm optimistic we will come out of this. If not, we will deal with it as we have dealt with other things," Collins said.
The county commission contends the new occupational tax law was written to prevent refunds. "The law written by the legislature was intended to be retroactive," Bobby Humphryes, Jefferson County Commissioner said.
The plaintiffs who filed the lawsuit which led to the job tax being declared illegal disagrees. During an afternoon hearing, Dekalb County Circuit Judge David Rains asked questions about setting up guidelines for refunds. Rains, from the bench, expressed concern about putting too much of a burden and expense on Jefferson County employers to provide information about those who should get refunds.

"I want the county to continue to uphold its ruling and respect the opinion of the Supreme Court that says taxpayers won and Jefferson County do all it can to get the money back to the people," Jim McFerrin, plaintiffs' attorney said.

Plaintiffs' attorneys realize any refunds may be pushed back until sometime next year. Meanwhile, workers in Jefferson County would like to get their hands on any refund as soon as possible. "If they took it illegally from us, they should give it back to us," Scott Russell, taxpayer said.