Jefferson County pleads case before supreme court over job tax

(photo source WBRC-TV)
(photo source WBRC-TV)

By Alan Collins

MONTGOMERY, AL (WBRC) - The Alabama Supreme Court heard oral arguments Wednesday over Jefferson County's occupational tax.

Attorneys for Jefferson County, in a hearing Wednesday morning before the court, said the county should not have to refund up to $50 million in money collected by a previous version of the county's occupational tax.

Dekalb County Judge David Rains, in January 2009, declared the county's occupational tax illegal and ordered the county to pay up to $50 million in refunds to people working in Jefferson County who paid the occupational tax.  However, the Alabama legislature passed a new version of the tax in August 2009, adding a clause declaring the previous version of the tax legal.

Attorneys for the county said that language in the new occupational tax law prevents the county from having to pay refunds. However, attorneys who filed the lawsuit that struck down the old tax argued the state constitution prohibits legislation interfering in any lawsuit or litigation.

Commissioner Bettye Fine Collins told FOX6 News Tuesday if the county loses the case, it could lead to job layoffs if the county has to pay the refunds.

The state's high court will study the case, and issue a ruling at a later date.

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