Lawsuits filed over rural fire tax

FRAZIER PARK, CA (Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012 at 3:40 p.m.) —This is a press release regarding filing of a suit against the rural fire prevention fee. The bills just received locally cover fiscal year 2011-2012. In March 2013, bills will start going out for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which raises concerns that rural residents could be charged twice in less than one year.

It has been recommended that people pay the fee — to avoid interest and a possible lien — but to file a protest too, so you are eligible for the potential refund. Those who protest may be the only ones to get their money back if the fee is ruled illegal.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association Files Class Action Lawsuit against Fire Tax

Class Action could qualify 825,000 property owners for a Fire Tax

Sacramento – Today the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a
class action lawsuit to provide relief to nearly one million
California property owners who received bills from the State for a new
“fire prevention fee” which the lawsuit claims is illegal.

The class action complaint, filed today in Superior Court in
Sacramento, seeks to overturn the fire fee, which costs property
owners an additional $150 per year for each habitable structure on
their property. The class action names plaintiffs from Kern County,
Mendocino County, Calaveras County, Butte County, San Bernardino
County, Solano County, San Luis Obispo County, El Dorado County, and
Lassen County, who together represent a cross-section of the roughly
825,000 property owners subject to the new fee. As the state’s
largest taxpayers’ association, HJTA is challenging the
constitutionality of the fee on the grounds it is really a tax that
needed a two-thirds vote in the Legislature to pass, but garnered only
a bare majority and therefore never became law.

The complaint was filed against the California Department of Forestry
and the Board of Equalization, as the two agencies responsible for
identifying owners of the parcels subject to the new tax and
collecting the tax, respectively. If the class action suit is
successful, approximately 825,000 homeowners could be eligible for

“This tax was dreamed up by politicians in Sacramento who are so
desperate for revenue that they were willing to ram this through the
Legislature without the proper two-thirds vote,” said Jon Coupal,
President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “The fire tax
is a direct violation of Prop. 13. It is our goal to overturn this
tax, prevent the politicians from taking more money from hardworking
people for a program they were already paying for, and help taxpayers
to get a refund from the government.”

To be eligible for a refund, property owners must first pay their
bill, then file a protest with the State. HJTA has established a
website that shows how to protest the fee and provides the necessary
forms. Property owners can also sign up for free e-mail bulletins that
will keep them informed of the progress of the class action suit.

Visit and click on
the “Fire Tax Protest” banner.





This is part of the October 05, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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