Tag Archives: Utility Tax

Utility Tax Refund forms now available on city website

17 Apr

Wow, I am surprised this year to find the finance department has already posted the Utility Tax Refund application. In years past, I’ve had to remind them, but this year they got it up at least two weeks early. 

http://www.chico.ca.us/documents/UUTRefundApplication2014.pdf

I hope you have all saved your bills – PG&E, and water for most people I assume, and if you still have a “land line” phone, they’ll get you there too. So, I save all my bills, and I march Downtown one day in June to collect. I usually get at least $50, even as low as we keep our bills here.

We’ve finally turned off our heater, so we can enjoy a few months of low bills before it gets hot enough to tip the air conditioner thermostat. But I’ve already heard air conditioners around our neighborhood. Save those bills!

 

$9,580 in cell phone rebates, and still counting

19 Jul

from Frank Fields 7/17/13

UUT refunds:

UUT cell phone refunds: $9,580

UUT annual refund program: $5,596 (May/June 2013)

Well, I am not excited about the UUT refund total, it doesn’t look like more than the usual number of people. At about $50 average refund, it only looks like the usual 100 people that always come in, myself included. I got almost $40, which puts the average Frank Fields gave me in perspective.

This tells me the process is too onerous for most people to take it seriously. You have to either mail that stack of crap in,  all your bills, all the pages, along with your tax returns, or, you have to find time during the work day to amble on down to the city building and make a personal appearance at the Finance Department window. 

To think, they’re ripping off the poorest people in town.  Maybe Brian Nakamura should grow a mustache, so he can twist it as he rips off the poor and closes them out of the playground. 

I’ve asked Nakamura, cc’ing the full council, to make the process electronic – something you could do over the computers at the library on a Saturday morning – but he just won’t answer.  I’ll get back to that soon. 

But, I do find the cell phone refund total impressive – $9,580 bucks. I didn’t get the number of applicants from Fields, but I’m guessing, that’s more than 100 applicants. Fields told me earlier this year, some of the applicants are businesses, with bigger refunds that kind of  mess up the average, but I’m still guessing, more than 100 people have filed for that refund, and that’s good. I get searches for the information in the blog daily, so I know people are still interested in getting their refunds, whether they will go through the onerous process or not. I wonder, how many people even keep their bills. 

I notice this morning, the city keeps announcing they’ve found this solution and that solution to the park closures, but the main park road and Caper Acres are still closed Monday through Thursday. I hope people get as mad about the park closures as they did about the cell phone tax. I’ll be in the park this weekend, for the Bidwell Park Birthday Scam, handing out fliers with dollar amounts and contact information – I hope we can turn this park closure on Nakamura, show him he messed with the wrong kind of bees.

I’ve reserved the library room for Sunday, August 4, 9am, for our First Sunday Chico Taxpayers meeting. I’ll have an update regarding the park closures, and more ideas for bringing the employees to the table. 

Measure J was just the test run for the sales tax increase

12 Mar

Brian Nakamura forwarded along Jennifer Hennessy’s answers to Stephanie Taber’s questions from last week’s city council meeting.

Stephanie’s questions, below in black, with Hennessy’s responses in blue, and my smart ass observations in green:

1) What/who is the source of information that is now being used to verify the $500 loss (or whatever the current figure is) in revenue due to the defeat of Measure J?  At the offset of the proposal there was no definitive way of separating how much revenue was received based solely of cell phone calls and texting and how much on land line costs.  At least that was my understanding.

Answer:  City staff will be able to determine Measure J’s impact over time, as Telecommunication companies stop collecting the tax on cell phones and voice over internet protocol (VOIP) services.  Future UUT revenue will be compared to revenue collected prior to the notification to the companies to cease collection of this tax. 

Wait, this doesn’t sound right. For one thing, in December, Hennessy reported a loss of $500,000 to the General Fund, and blamed it directly, in so many words, by name, on “the loss of Measure J.” There was no doubt in her mind, our budget had been hit broadside to the tune of $500,000 by the petty taxpayers who defeated that ill-begot scheme. Now she tells us, she won’t know how much, til “over time”?   She’s our budget director, in charge of our financial “IN” and “OUT” boxes, and she doesn’t know where our money comes from? She gets checks all year from the phone companies, but she doesn’t keep track of how much? That answer sounds fishy to me on a number of levels. 

2) Are telephone tax collections a separate revenue line item that can be compared month-to-month and year to date?

Answer:  Yes, revenue collected for Utility Users Tax on telecommunication services is reflected in the City’s General Fund, under account 40492. 

And here she says the opposite – that the revenue collected is kept track of in the budget?  Month to month? I looked in the budget, available under “Finance Dept” on the city website.

http://www.chico.ca.us/finance/documents/2012-13CityAnnualFINALBudget_000.pdf

Yes, under the General Fund summary, page FS-1, Fund 001, Utility Tax is separated out – gas, electric, telecom, and water – but only year to year. I wonder if she even read Stephanie’s question all the way through. The fund is there, but we don’t see how much is added and subtracted, just the balance. Like she says for Q #1, we would have to have all the budgets, and compare that number from year to year, and we’d have to know how much money had been taken from that fund in order to figure out how much had come in over any particular year. She knows that stuff, or she should – why she can’t give us a straight answer is beyond me, and it just makes me suspicious of everything they say Downtown.

What they continue to say Downtown, is that Measure J is to blame for all our fiscal difficulties. This even as they sign that new cop contract – raises, especially for lieutenants, fully-paid “employee share,” the whole nine yards. And did you see those new cruisers they bought, just to be “traditional”? They’ve also raised department head salaries about $25 – 30,000 each.  Oh, but $900,000, or uh, is it $600,000 – oh, just $500,000? Really? Well that’s still a TRAGEDY! QUE LASTIMA! You rotten, petty taxpayers! You’re so stingy! 

This is their foot in the door for that sales tax increase, you just watch. 

And don’t forget, Frank Fields said he’d have the UT rebate application on the website “in the next couple of  weeks,” so I’ll keep you posted there.

Hurry up and get those refund applications turned in – they will only give back your stolen money a year previous to your application

5 Feb

I been so busy lately, I am spun. I keep walking into rooms and finding some half-done job – – half-made bed, half-done dishes, half-folded laundry, half-eaten lunch, etc.  Right now I’m about half-way through boiling a half dozen eggs.

It is hard to keep up with city business, which of course, is everybody’s business. They move those nutshells fast down there, because they don’t want us to get ahold of that pea!

So, at this past Chico Taxpayer’s Association meeting, I asked if we could make this blog more of a “newsletter,” an information site, somewhere to go when you’re looking for something. Lately I have had a lot of searches and hits on the information and links regarding the cell phone tax refund. I’ve been posting the link, but when I tried to talk about the rules for the refund this morning, I realized, I didn’t know!  I frankly had a hard time figuring out, what do they mean, one year? Etc. But, I had a bunch of other junk to do, so I had to put it aside.

Stephanie Taber went to the city website and cut it right out for us, read below. 

There it is –  “Refunds may be claimed for City of Chico utility users’ tax paid for cell phone or VOIP services within 12 months prior to the application date”.  

Think what that means – the longer you wait the less money you will be able to claim.  Every month you wait, you lose another month’s tax, money you paid involuntarily, money they took illegally.  Of course, I have to ask – if you apply for your refund before they stop taking the tax from your bills, will you be able to reapply for those bills that came after you applied for your first refund? Oh people, there are so many questions here, and so few willing to ask.

 Thanks again to Stephanie Taber, who is out there asking questions and getting answers.
CITY OF CHICO – FINANCE OFFICE
Location: 411 Main Street, Chico
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 3420, Chico, CA 95927
Phone: (530) 879-7320
TELEPHONE (Cellular Phone or Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP)
USERS’ TAX REFUND APPLICATION
Refunds:
1. Refunds may be claimed for City of Chico utility users’ tax paid for cell phone or
VOIP services within 12 months prior to the application date (i.e., applications filed
in Feb 2013 would cover billing periods Feb 2012-Jan 2013).
2. You may not claim a refund for amounts previously refunded through the City’s
Utility Tax Refund program.
3. Refunds will be issued beginning February 21, 2013.
4. Refunds will be mailed to the name and address on the bill(s).
5. Refund application and copies of bills may be submitted to:
a. The City’s P.O. Box as listed above; or
b. Dropped off on the first floor of City Hall located at 411 Main Street.
Items Required:
1. Copies of phone bills showing utility tax paid. Please note that the bills must show
an address within the Chico city limits.
2. Completed and signed application.
APPLICANT INFORMATION
Name on bill: Street Address on bill:
Zip Code on bill: Contact number:
Mailing Address if different than on bill:
TELEPHONE USERS’ TAX PAID (Only List Actual Tax Paid)
Month Year
Provider/Acct Provider/Acct Provider/Acct Provider/Acct
January $ $ $ $
February $ $ $ $
March $ $ $ $
April $ $ $ $
May $ $ $ $
June $ $ $ $
July $ $ $ $
August $ $ $ $
September $ $ $ $
October $ $ $ $
November $ $ $ $
December $ $ $ $
Total $ $ $ $
1. I certify that the information supplied is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.
2. I understand that any person required to sign and verify any report under the provisions of the City of Chico Municipal
Code, who makes any false or fraudulent request with intent to defeat or evade the determination of any amount, is
guilty of a misdemeanor (City Municipal Code 3.56.160).
Applicant Name: _____________________________________ Date: ____________________
************************************************************************
Internal Use Only: Verified no previous cell phone refund Verified not paid via UUT refund process
Check # issued ____________

Segregating your phone bill – a sample Sprint bill

19 Jan

Sprint is another cellphone carrier I’ve found to collect Utility User’s Tax.  Notice, on page 5 of 5 of this sample bill, “Denver State-Community Service Taxes,” “Denver County 9-1-1,” and “Denver County-Comm Sales Tax.”  I’m assuming, if this bill were made out for a person living in the  city of Chico, it would say “City Utility User’s Tax.” 

This bill specifically refers to “mobile” service, with no reference to a landline.  

UPDATE:  Looking over these bills later, I couldn’t help but note – reread the arguments that Ann Schwab and Scott Gruendl made in favor of Measure J – they insinuate that the “average” cell bill is $50! Look at these “average” bills I’ve posted – these are based on real bills, for two to three users – $150 a month! 

Scott Gruendl is up for re-election in 2014. We need to call that little prick on his bullshit. 

Also, city manager Brian Nakamura keeps repeating, we “lost” $900,000 with the defeat of Measure J. But at last month’s Finance Committee meeting, Hennessy reported the loss for fiscal year 2011-12 was only $500,000, after  the N&R quoted her office boy Frank Fields as estimating it at $600,000 back in November.

Is our city manager just making stuff up?

Segregating your phone bill – a sample AT&T bill

19 Jan

Here below is a sample AT&T bill I found online – looks exactly like my AT&T  bills, but it’s from Texas.

Notice, on pages 2 and 3, you see various amounts attributed to  “City District telecom tax”, “City Telecom Tax”, and “Texas Telecom Tax.”   Here in California we call that “Utility Tax,”  or “Utility User’s Tax”.   City of Chico residents will see, “City” or “Local” or even “City of Chico Utility User’s Tax.”  A turd, by any other name, will still stick to your shoe.

I know, it’s seems like such a mess – but notice this bill makes it very clear that these charges are for “wireless” or cellular phones. All the charges are scrupulously separated, or “segregated”,  out.

Wireless Statement Sample

Wireless Statement Sample

Wireless Statement Sample

Wireless Statement Sample

Cell phone tax refunds now available, back to February 2012. Get ’em before the city runs out of money!

17 Jan

Before I head out to take the laundry down, I wanted to say, I got a note from Frank Fields over in the Finance Department that the cell phone tax refund info and applications have been put on the city website.  Here’s the application with all the information you need:

http://www.chico.ca.us/finance/documents/CellPhoneRefundApplication_011713.pdf

Yes, I had to bitch at him for it, and he put it up so fast I really don’t understand why it wasn’t up Wednesday by noon.

He also mentioned, they’re still trying to figure out how to notice it publicly. At what these people get paid,  they have to make everything they do look like rocket science.  I asked him to let me know, and I’ll keep watching it. 

That’s what it takes folks – gotta stay on it!