Challenging The Fire Tax
Homeowners that fail to pay the new fire fee are subject to a penalty, so a group is encouraging rural residents to immediately file a formal appeal upon payment.
As reported previously, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has filed a lawsuit arguing that the $150 SRA fee is unconstitutional under Proposition 13.
Proposition 13 requires that state tax increases be approved with a 2/3 vote. The SRA Fee was approved with a simple majority, under the opinion that it is a fee, and not a tax.
According to information from the HJTA, “If you are late, steep penalties and interest are compounded monthly. Moreover, the fee is a lien on your property, and failure to pay can result in foreclosure.”
The organization is encouraging everyone that pays the fee to file an appeal with the state within 30 days. The organization states, “Should we prevail, the court may order refunds. To qualify for a refund you must have paid your bill and filed a “Petition for Redetermination.”
Tuolumne County leaders have taken notice, and have put information on the county website about how to file a formal appeal. You can download a CAL Fire petition form by clicking here. Law requires that the petition be in writing and mailed to: California Department of Forestry’s Fire Prevention Fee Service Center; PO Box 2254, Suisun City, CA 94585.
Grounds for appeal include:
1. The structure is commercial (not residential)
2. I was not the owner in July 2011
3. The structure is not in an SRA
4. This bill is an unconstitutional tax