Annexed Residents Afraid of Being Back-Taxed

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(Memphis) Almost 1,000 people from South Cordova packed an auditorium at the Agricenter Tuesday night to learn about a class action lawsuit they could join.

These recently annexed residents believe the tax bill they've been given by the city of Memphis is for January 2012 through December 2012.

"That makes no sense whatsoever," said Andre Wooten.

But a spokesperson for Mayor A C Wharton told News Channel 3 there will be no back taxes.

"The tax bill they were recently sent will go toward city services for fiscal year 2013, which began in calendar July 2012 and will end in June 2013," said Mary Cashiola.

She said that the city's tax rate is set each year in late spring for the fiscal year starting July 1st.

For example, existing city residents were required to pay their annual taxes by July 31, 2012.

The confusion may come from the fact that taxes in the county are collected at the beginning of each year.

Some residents are just hearing about the city's statement. If true, the tax collection time period would match when they were annexed.

"Well that would be fair," said Natalie Gabel.

Wooten said, "Now that you say that, I will definitely go back and review the letter I received."

At least one bill News Channel 3 viewed showed only a date of 2012.

The city's tax calendar didn't seem to affect Joshua Miller's opinion of what's going on.

"To me, I don't really care what they say," Miller said. "What I'm concerned about is the fact that I'm getting a lot less service for a lot less product for what I'm having to pay for."

The attorney representing the annexed residents, Rick Winchester, said that a previous court case shows the city's claim of collecting this tax for the fiscal year is still wrong.

In Piper vs. the city of Memphis, a case decided about 20 years ago, the court ruled that Memphis could only tax annexed residents the January after annexation.

Winchester argues these residents in South Cordova should not be taxed until January 2013.

He told the crowd that their only recourse was to pay the tax, then participate in the class action lawsuit.

Residents were encouraged to sign a letter to the city treasurer, stating that their taxes were being paid in protest.

Because of the annexation, the city is giving these residents an extension until Oct. 31 to pay the tax.