Thursday, September 14, 2023

Give Our Money Back! Hillsborough County Opposes Taxpayer Refund AGAIN as AFT's $570 MILLION Refund Fiasco Continues

The Hillsborough County $570 Million All for Transportation (AFT) refund legal fiasco continues. 

Over 2.5 years ago, the AFT transit tax was ruled illegal and thrown out in its entirety. The AFT transit tax refund remedy has not yet been resolved. 

But there has been some recent court actions taken.

On August 4, 2023, an Amendment Complaint was filed in Leon County in the AFT class action lawsuit brought by Robert Emerson. The Amended Complaint challenges Defendants Hillsborough County and Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) position that Section 155 extinguished Plaintiff's claim against them for a refund of the unconstitutional tax.

AFT Class Action Amended Complaint

It appears the Amended Complaint is requesting the Court rule that the Plaintiff's [the taxpayers] have a right to a refund. 

Emerson's Complaint states that Section 155 passed in 2022 required Hillsborough County to transfer all illegally collected AFT tax proceeds to the DOR. Plaintiff claims this action was taken to preserve the unlawfully collected tax proceeds to "ensure Plaintiff's right for a remedy for their claim".

Hillsborough County disagrees. Hillsborough County has consistently fought  to keep the illegally collected tax dollars from being refunded to taxpayers so they can be spent instead. 

On September 11, 2023 the Hillsborough County Attorney's office filed in Leon County a Motion to Dismiss Emerson's Complaint. 

We were unable to find where any discussion was transparently done or vote taken by the Hillsborough County commissioners authorizing the County Attorney to file their Motion to Dismiss.

There are questions regarding the County's action that need answers. A Public Records Request has been submitted to the Hillsborough County Attorney's office requesting information. We will update this post when a response is received.

A big question is who asked the County Attorney to file the Motion to Dismiss. 

This is the same County Attorney who allowed 2 illegal transit tax referendums to be placed on the ballot in Hillsborough County.


AFT created a huge legal mess when they placed an illegal transit/rail tax referendum not legally vetted on the 2018 ballot. 

AFT used $4 Million from about 30 wealthy donors in a well funded misinformation marketing campaign. AFT made false claims their transit tax would fix roads when it actually prohibited funding new road capacity and massively over funded transit. The voters were lied to by AFT in 2018 and the transit tax, now ruled illegal, passed.

Before any refund remedy has been made, the same people who supported the 2018 illegal AFT transit tax put another illegal AFT transit tax back on the ballot last year. 

Many of the same wealthy donors supported the illegal 2022 AFT transit tax. Hillsborough County voters saw thru AFT's shenanigans and defeated the 2022 illegal tax. Thankfully another potential AFT refund mess was avoided. 

As we posted here, the Florida House passed a bill this session for a sales tax holiday in Hillsborough County to remedy the big AFT refund mess. AFT's wealthy donor class sent a letter to Gov DeSantis opposing the sales tax holiday refund remedy.

The Florida Senate then struck the sales tax holiday language on the very last day of Session. We were told the refund remedy would be addressed in the 2024 legislative session.

The wealthy AFT donors do not want taxpayers to be refunded for the $570 million refund mess they helped create. Did they want the County to file the Motion to Dismiss to stop the taxpayers from getting refunded?

We cannot find how illegally collected tax proceeds by a government entity can "magically" be made legal for a government entity to spend.

None of the Defendants in the AFT lawsuits should be rewarded. They are the losers of the lawsuit.

The bad behavior of those pushing, not just one but two illegal AFT transit tax hikes, must be addressed to ensure such behavior does not continue.

A clear message must be sent that placing illegal local tax hikes on the ballot will not be tolerated in the State of Florida. 

The remedy in the State of Florida for any local tax ruled illegal in its final court adjudication must be to refund the taxpayers thru a sales tax holiday until the illegal tax proceeds are depleted.

The bad behavior must stop.

The taxpayers of Hillsborough County have waited way too long. They deserve a 1% sales tax holiday ASAP. 

Give our Money Back! 

1 comment:

  1. Those that wanted the tax in the first place want to keep as much of the illegal monies as possible, just like they will try and pass another AFT sales tax in the future when they can. People need to put a stop to this, both here and in Tallahassee. This didn't make the usual news outlets , wonder why?