Last week, HJTA’s legal team had the opportunity to appear in court for an important hearing on our fire tax lawsuit. The State had wanted to stop our lawsuit from being allowed to move forward.
We sent two members of our legal team to argue on taxpayers’ behalf. They were joined by a small group of citizens in matching red “Burned by the Fire Tax” tee shirts, who sat in the audience to offer their support.
The State said we couldn’t sue as a class action and they wanted four of our fourteen plaintiffs to be dismissed because those plaintiffs sought refunds for everyone who paid the fee, not just those who filed appeals with CalFire. Our Director of Legal Affairs, Tim Bittle, urged the judge to allow the case to move forward. If the State acted illegally, he argued, it should not be rewarded by getting to keep the money of over 800,000 Californians affected.
Recently, the judge issued his ruling. The judge ruled in our favor that we CAN sue as a class action and did NOT disqualify any of our plaintiffs. Unfortunately, for now the judge has also said that if the case is ultimately decided in our favor, taxpayers will only be able to receive refunds if they filed a timely appeal with CalFire.
This case will be a long process and this decision will not necessarily determine the final outcome. Still, we have won an important victory with the judge’s decision to allow this case to move forward as a class action. However, the judge’s decision also underscores the importance of filing a timely appeal with CalFire if you want a refund. The forms and detailed instructions can be downloaded from this special website, by clicking here or on the “refund” tab in the gray menu bar above.