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Call Kurtis Investigates: Lawmaker’s Fire Tax Bill Could Clear Way for Refund of $1.3M Wrongly Collected

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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WEST SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — More than five weeks after a Call Kurtis investigation uncovered Sacramento Metro Fire planned to not return more than $1.3M in taxes wrongly collected from property owners, a lawmaker has introduced a bill that would authorize such refunds.

Sacramento Metro Fire admitted it had wrongly taxed more than 3,800 property owners a $100 a year fire protection fee that did not apply. The agency sent out a letter explaining it would refund homeowners for the past four years, but the agency failed to mention in its letter it had wrongly assessed the tax for eight years, since 2005.

The agency originally told Call Kurtis it couldn’t return the money, and then told Call Kurtis it was working toward a solution, after CBS13 asked the agency to reach out to Assemblyman Ken Cooley to work toward an “urgency bill” that would allow such a refund.

Assemblyman Cooley’s bill AB 1053, the wording of which was drafted this week, could clear the way for that refund.

Cooley credited Call Kurtis for bringing attention to the issue.

Metro Fire’s mistake wrongfully assessing the $100 annual fire tax primarily affected 3,800 property owners in the Rancho Cordova area, as Call Kurtis reported March 4.

The investigation uncovered Metro Fire planned to not return $1.3 million it never should have collected. The agency claimed the statute of limitations of four years prevented them from returning that money.

Legal experts and lawmakers interviewed by Call Kurtis disagreed, but even if true, the state urgency bill could get around that.

Cooley hopes the bill will be passed by August, and vowed to see it through to ensure his constituents will receive their refunds.

If passed refunds could be issued by the end of the year.

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