cell phone tax update – almost $300,000 accumulated, only about $10,000 refunded

1 Nov

Back in August, the ER did an update on cell phone tax rebates, saying applications were starting to slow down. At that time they reported a rebate total of $9,550, to 191 customers. Frank Fields told me at one point, most of the applicants were residential, but a few businesses had come in.

Since the beginning, Chico taxpayer Jim Matthews has been suggesting an electronic application, so that victims of the illegal tax could claim their stolen money without having to carry a pile of dead trees down to City Hall during their work day. I personally forwarded that suggestion to Brian Nakamura and staff, who oftentimes answered the e-mail but wouldn’t discuss our suggestion.

For weeks now, I’ve been getting searches here – the cell phone thing is the top search right now, even with all the cops in a titter over other stuff I’ve said about them. It’s even a top search on worldofjuanita.  So, I e-mailed the finance department to ask for an update. I got this reply from Chris Constantin.

“I’ve cc’d Frank to provide the latest numbers.  From the last report I received, unfortunately, not many took advantage of it.  The totals are pretty low.”

I like Constantin, he’s an honest guy – but you know me, I’m an honest gal, Compulsively honest. I found his e-mail offensive, and I had to tell him so. See, the city kept collecting cell phone taxes beyond the November 2012 election wherein we told them to STOP IT! They amassed a tidy $286,450, according to the ER. They will keep this money when a full year passes after the last taxes were collected, which was Spring 2013 (NOTE: meaning, it took them about six months to stop taking it!)   So, you have a few months to make your application, or tell your friends, co-workers, anybody you see standing there holding a cell phone – go Downtown and get your stolen money back!

Constantin purported surprise that more people had not come to claim their stolen money, but I had to call him on that. They made the process so onerous – come down to City Hall, during your work day, don’t forget every cell phone bill you ever got…   I won’t directly blame Constantin but I won’t stand for his pretending to be sorry. He could still change the process to make it electronic, make the phone companies send people their bills electronically, or just send them an annual total for their cell phone tax. That’s all in the records, but Constantin stands by while we are forced to bring a stack of paper Downtown on our lunch break if we want our stolen money back.

Let me repeat that – our stolen money.  $286,450, ill-gotten gain.

I’ll get back to you with that update, and watch for it in the ER, they’ll probably send it there too. 

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