Chula Vistans beat the phone tax – now they’re suing to get back the money their city collected illegally!

16 May

Last night Ann Schwab, Mary Goloff, Andy Holcombe and Jim Walker moved forward with a resolution to tax “all forms of electronic communication imaginable, now or in the future…”

Lori Barker, who plays an attorney on TV,  defended her resolution, saying “it is impossible to include an exhaustive list of taxable services because we might leave something out…” Then they wouldn’t be able to tax that service too! So, she opted to leave an open-ended “description” that  any future Finance Director can add to without any input from the taxpayers.

Then she cited a word limit in the law – she is only allowed to use 77 words, and she was up to 75. Well, two more words would have fit – the words “texting” and “paging” – two services that will be taxed under this resolution but that Barker just couldn’t shoehorn in there! 

I think this dawg should be easy to put down – why would people vote to tax themselves when they don’t even know what they will be taxed on or how much they will pay? Barker wouldn’t answer that question either – she keeps insisting that this turkey will be “revenue neutral.” What? She’s adding cell phones that have never been taxed before, and she’s trying to tell us, the city won’t be making any extra money and we won’t be paying any more? 

This whole campaign is built on LIES.  We can and will defeat this tax.

This scenario has already played out in the little town of Chula Vista. I spent a Christmas in Chula Vista, when my dad was working on the freeway in San Diego. It was beautiful, 70 – 80 degrees.  We stayed in a motel with my dad’s coworkers and their families, and for Christmas dinner,  one of the moms made tamales in the motel kitchenette – what a scream, in that hot little kitchen!  I have never forgotten Chula Vista, and I never will. They are the town that stood up to the Utility Tax, and won.

In 2010, the city of Chula Vista put a similar proposition before their voters – making all the same lame threats about public safety, etc. The voters of Chula Vista not only put that resolution soundly in the toilet, there is currently an effort among Chula Vistans to SUE THE CITY! 

From the San Diego Metro Daily Business Report, Feb. 23, 2012:

Trial Date Set for Utility Tax Issue in Chula Vista

A trial date has been set for a class action suit seeking millions of dollars in restitution for allegedly illegal utility taxes levied by the city of Chula Vista on cell phone users within its boundaries. This follows a ruling by Superior Court Judge Richard Strauss dismissing a challenge brought by the city. The lawsuit stems from a now outdated tax — levied on users of telephones, electricity and other utilities — that was introduced in 1970 and generates more than $9 million in revenue for the city each year. An attempt by the city to amend the law with Proposition H in 2010 was defeated by voters. According to Thomas Penfield, a partner with San Diego-based Casey Gerry and co-lead counsel, the city of Chula Vista recently filed a legal objection to the suit.  “The city cited its local ordinance which said you cannot file a class action for a tax refund,” said Penfield. Penfield and co-counsel James Capretz of Orange County-based Capretz & Associates argued that municipalities are not permitted to enact their own patchwork means of claiming tax refunds. “The judge agreed with our argument and ruled in our favor – stating that state procedure overrules the local ordinance,” Penfield said. The case is now set to go to trial Jan. 18, 2013.

We’ve got some work ahead of us, but we must follow Chula Vista’s example and fight this tax.

2 Responses to “Chula Vistans beat the phone tax – now they’re suing to get back the money their city collected illegally!”

  1. Sue Hubbard May 16, 2012 at 10:03 am #

    We need to start writing letters to the ER and CN&R to educate the public about this.

    • Juanita Sumner May 16, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      thanks Sue – I agree!

      I’m also yakking it up to everyone I talk to. I bring it into any conversation I have, and not just people who live in the city – this tax can be extended to folks who live outside the city but use their phones within the city limit.

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