Court hearing could shrink occupational tax refunds' size

JEFFERSON COUNTY, AL (WBRC) - Refunds for Jefferson County workers from the occupational tax may have to wait longer and expect small checks.

Attorneys who filed the lawsuit which lead to occupational tax being struck down are hoping to get 30 percent of $50 million from the refunds. "The decision on what is paid to attorneys is discretionary with the court. At this stage we may never see anything," says attorney Jim McFerrin.
Attorneys for the county questioned granting the attorney fees without a more detailed explanation of legal expenses. The county's lawyers also object to forcing the county to pay another million dollars to cover the cost providing the refunds to county workers. McFerrin objects to taking that money out of pool of funds from the refunds. "If the commission hadn't insisted on collecting an illegal tax, then no illegal tax would be collected. So yeah, the county should pay for its error," McFerrin said.
After the Tuesday hearing, the county's new legal team from Bradley Arant had little to say. "Happy to present our arguments to Judge Rains and look forward to working with him," says attorney for the county Joe Mays.
Commission President Bettye Fine Collins says if the county has to pay the $50 million, it will impact county services. "There is no doubt about it. It would harder on our efforts where this county needs to be," Collins said.

The county's attorneys have appealed to part of DeKalb County Judge David Rains order to pay refunds to the Alabama Supreme Court. McFerrin calls it a waste of taxpayers' dollars. "It appears the county is doing everything it can to keep the taxpayers from getting a refund," McFerrin said.