Residents to Start Receiving Refunds Within the Next Few Months
SAN DIEGO (December 2013) – San Diego Superior Court Judge Richard E.L. Strauss has granted final approval for a class action settlement between wireless phone users and the City of Chula Vista. The settlement includes funding forrebates and refunds of the City’s Telephone User’s Tax (TUT), a tax on mobile telephone service.
In 2011, San Diego-based Casey Gerry and Newport Beach-based Capretz & Associates joined forces to file the lawsuit, which demanded restitution as a result of the City of Chula Vista’s continued collection of the controversial tax.
The lawsuit, Carla Villa, et al. v. City of Chula Vista, was brought by two Chula Vista residents on behalf of all Chula Vista taxpayers.
The settlement made cash rebates available to Chula Vista wireless phone users who paid taxes on their wireless phone bills from April 2010 through April 2013, and the deadline to file claims was July 31, 2013.
According to CaseyGerry attorney Jeremy K. Robinson, the final outcome of the class action was very successful – with a large number of Chula Vista residents filing claims for refunds. “Barring any appeal, which is not expected, class members should start receiving their money within the next few months,” he said. ”In addition, as a result of the settlement, the City will clarify and correct its municipal taxing ordinance and reduce the tax rate from 5% to 4.75%. ”
The case involves Chula Vista’s Telephone User’s Tax (TUTS), originally introduced by the city in 1970 and later collected by cellular providers, including Verizon and AT&T. The tax has been automatically added to monthly charges and embedded in detailed billing statements for years.
Many Chula Vista residents did not realize they were paying the tax – also levied on electric and other utility bills — on their mobile phone services. The city attempted to modernize the tax in 2010 via Proposition H, which voters rejected.