A big win was had today in Court for two classes of Cincinnati taxpayers.
After more than four years of litigation — through Common Pleas Court, the Court of Appeals, an attempt for Ohio Supreme Court review and back — today Hamilton County Common Pleas Court Judge Wende Cross signed the Order Approving Class Action Settlement in the case of Andrew White et al. v. City of Cincinnati, Ohio, Hamilton County, Ohio Common Pleas Court Case No. A1804206 (known as the “Alarms Tax Case”).
The Order established a common fund of $3,277,802.25 from illegal alarms registration fees (NOTE: not false alarm fees) collected by the City of Cincinnati from 2014 to present. That nearly $3.3 million fund is to pay refunds to those who paid the illegal tax and attorneys fees incurred in the litigation. The litigation in this matter was led by Maurice Thompson of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law. Finney Law Firm and attorneys Christopher Finney and Julie Gugino served as co-counsel.
As we explain in more detail here, Judge Cross certified two classes to receive refunds (a) residential and (b) non-residential payors of the Cincinnati alarms tax. The City charged residential alarm-system-owners $50 per year to register their systems and commercial owners $100 per year to register their systems. Last fall, the 1st District Court of Appeals unanimously ruled the tax illegal under Ohio law and unconstitutional, overruling a trial Court ruling on the same subject. In March of this year, the Ohio Supreme Court preserved that victory for Cincinnati property owners when it refused to accept discretionary review of the case.
Making a difference
“Making a difference” for our clients is the mission of Finney Law Firm and its capable attorneys. In this case, we successfully enjoined the enforcement of the illegal tax and achieved more than seven years of refunds for payors. The victory was won under both state law (the assessment was an illegal tax) and the U.S. Constitution (the tax was an infringement on free speech rights by preventing or making more difficult reporting of crimes to the police).
How to get your refund
If you were a Cincinnati alarm registration payor at any time from 2014 to today, you should already have received a postcard, email or voicemail about the refund. If we have a current address for you (i.e., you received the postcard), you should be receiving a refund by by February 21, 2023.
If you have not gotten a mailed postcard, please make sure we have your name and current address (and the address for which the alarm tax was paid) (will post information shortly of where to write with this info). Write to [email protected] with this information: your name, the payor’s name, your address, and the property for which the alarm registration fee was paid.