Judge questions ruling on JeffCo occupational tax

By Alan Collins

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The judge handling the lawsuit over the Jefferson County occupational tax expressed Friday his dismay towards a recent ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court in the matter.

DeKalb County Circuit Judge David Raines held a status hearing Friday morning in Birmingham with attorneys in the case.  Judge Raines said he was "dismayed" by the court's ruling last week which could allow the county to keep some, if not all, of the more than $37 million collected by the county in 2009 under the old occupational tax.

Judge Raines declared that tax illegal in January 2009 and, after unsuccessful appeals, the Legislature approved a new occupational tax in August 2009.

Friday, Judge Raines suggested to the attorneys in the case that not only should the $37 million be refunded to the taxpayer, but another $10 million may be needed for refunds. In addition, Judge Raines also questioned whether legal fees, which are now projected to be at around $13 million, should be paid by Jefferson County instead of coming out of the escrow account for the refunds.

Judge Raines suggested the county should be responsible for paying the legal fees with funds not associated with the money collected under the old occupational tax.

Copyright 2010 WBRC. All rights reserved.