Arizona county pressured to return $80M in ill-gotten revenue to taxpayers

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The Pinal County Board of Supervisors meets on July 5, 2023. Pinal County YouTube page

After years of inaction, taxpayers are asking a judge to force a southern Arizona county to return millions of dollars in transportation tax revenue ruled unconstitutional by the state’s Supreme Court.

Harold Vangilder – a former candidate for state Senate – along with Dan Neidig and the Arizona Restaurant Association have asked the state’s Superior Tax Court for an injunction forcing Pinal County and the Arizona Department of Revenue to rebate taxpayers the $80 million in infrastructure excise taxes collected on transactions below $10,000.

It’s that stipulation from the November 2017 tax that Arizona Supreme Court justices ruled was unconstitutional in April 2022. DOR announced shortly after that it would return the funding to taxpayers, but the money has yet to be distributed.

On Aug. 30, DOR announced a pause on plans to send the money out, citing a lack of clarity from Pinal County on how they would go about it. 

The plaintiffs, via the Goldwater Institute, are asking Judge Christopher Whitten to either issue an injunction forcing the county’s hand or to transfer the revenue to a “constructive trust” that the county couldn’t access or gain interest on.

“Arizona law could not be clearer: Pinal County and the Department of Revenue must repay this money,” said Goldwater Vice President for Legal Affairs Timothy Sandefur

The money is being held in an interest-bearing account controlled by the Pinal County Treasurer’s Office. The Center Square reached out to the office to get a current balance of those funds, but the county said it would only give that information under an Arizona Public Records Act request.

County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff Serdy did not respond to a request for comment. 

Republished with the permission of The Center Square.