JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Jefferson County's new job tax is not in effect but there is already a court challenge. A class action lawsuit has been filed seeking to block professionals from paying the tax.
The Jefferson County Commission approved the tax Tuesday. It will go into effect Jan. 1st. It lowers the rate from .5% to .45% and is estimated to generate $72 million. The tax will include professionals, such as doctors, lawyers and architects for the first time. "Like anyone of us, no one wants to pay more taxes especially it's unlawfully passed like this one was," Clayton Lowe said.
Lowe is a lawyer who represents Mountain Brook dentist, Jeffery Weissman. Lowe has been involved in legal challenges to include professionals for more than a decade. Lowe says state law protects eleven professions from being taxed by the county if they pay for a state business license. "Each one of those people shall buy a license from the state and the county shall not tax them," Lowe said.
Jim McFerrin, an attorney who challenged the old county job tax says it is not that simple. "The legislature meant to include doctors, lawyers and accountants under the occupational tax," McFerrin said.
McFerrin points to other sections of the state law and the state constitution which allows the legislature to impose occupational taxes. Lowe says while the legal question will be settled in court it is not the intention to throw the county into financial chaos. "I don't want people standing in lines. I don't want to stand in line. I don't want to a burden on the county. This is purely a legal
Question," Lowe said.