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Judge Will Decide Plan For Hillsborough Tax Refunds

Hillsborough Area Regional Transit

Hillsborough County must refund more than half a billion dollars collected from a sales tax ruled unconstitutional.

Hillsborough County began collecting a voter-approved penny tax for transportation in 2019, but it never spent the money as a legal fight on the tax’s validity played out all the way to the Florida Supreme Court.

Judges there ruled that the way the amendment distributed the tax was unconstitutional. And they decided that the money - about $500 million - needed to be returned.

Now, attorneys for the county, its cities, and Hillsborough Area Regional Transit want a panel of former judges to decide who is owed a refund. Unclaimed money would return to the county.

A hearing on the proposal is scheduled for June 22. The attorneys say they’re trying to prevent a class action lawsuit, which could see Hillsborough issuing thousands of refunds to taxpayers.

Meanwhile, commissioners are working on a plan for a replacement tax, which would go to voters next year.

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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