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South Tucson Collected Illegal Property Tax

by Rick Edwards, Phoenix, July 2014


Property owners in South Tucson, Arizona paid about $1.8 million over the past three years for a secondary property tax that was illegally enacted without voter approval. The City Council voted to eliminate the tax for the fiscal year that began July 1 but officials stopped short of approving a refund.


"There are mechanisms for returning money to taxpayers, but they usually apply to individual taxpayers whose bill was somehow computed in error," Pima County Treasurer Beth Ford told the Arizona Daily Star. "There is no precedent for responding to an illegal tax or for wide-scale repayment."


State lawmakers may step in if South Tucson doesn't come up with a refund plan. Representative John Kavanagh said he would introduce legislation that would expand a judge's ruling on whether a tax was illegal in one taxpayer's case to all those who paid the tax. He said he would make the legislation retroactive and include a provision forcing a municipality to also pay the taxpayer's legal fees if the levy is deemed illegal.