BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Refunds are closer for Jefferson County workers. DeKalb County Judge David Rains has issued an order for the county to put $38 million into an account for refunds for county workers who paid the tax from January until August. In August, the Alabama Legislature passed a new occupational tax for the county. Taxpayers want the refund."I would like to see it myself. I own my own business. I would like to see it," Randy Richardson said.
"We would like to have it back for sure. I don't see it coming," Johnathon Henderson said.
One of the attorneys who filed the lawsuit which lead to the tax being declared illegal says Rains' order is good news for taxpayers. "I think it's fantastic. What it means, we will be getting money into the hands of people of Jefferson County early next year," Jim McFerrin said.
A Birmingham attorney has been appointed by Judge Rains to oversee the refund process. Ed Gentle has handled refunds for massive class action judgements in the past. This includes breast implants and the Anniston pcb cases. Gentle says refunding $38 million can be done. "It's not hard but it will be a lot of math. It involves a lot of claimants. We have 15-thousand employers and 300-thousand employees," Gentle said.
Gentle says after getting money it should take about 90 days. But, there could be a delay, earlier this week Jefferson County Commission President Bettye Fine Collins says the county could appeal the judge's order. "It will be a matter for the commission to decide but I would hope if the judge's order goes against us we would appeal to the Supreme Court," Collins said
McFerrin says that would be a waste of taxpayers' dollars in legal fees."You can appeal all you want to; the people of Jefferson County want their money. They deserve to get their money."McFerrin said.
Judge Rains still must decide if additional millions should be added to the refund and what legal fees McFerrin and his partners should get.