The judge ordered the city to return the income tax to 6 during the epidemic. Lawyers have been studying class exams.

ST. LOUIS – A judge on Thursday ordered the city to return taxpayer money to six non-residents who worked from home during the pandemic in a ruling that could open the door to more expensive additional claims to the warehouse.

Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser said that Collector of Revenue Gregory FX Daly violated the law and years before when he prohibited refunds to remote workers in the early days of the epidemic, dismissing the arguments of his Lawyers are different.

The decision, if upheld, would only require the city to pay about $8,100 in pending refunds, plus interest. But Mark Milton, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said he plans to use the ruling to revive a class action lawsuit that was rejected by another judge last year. He said tens of thousands of people – perhaps as many as 100,000 – may be eligible for relief under the decision. And if even a fraction of those people were allowed refunds, it could be a problem for city officials.

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More than one-third of the city’s general purpose income comes from a 1% income tax levied on city residents as well as non-residents who work in the area. city ​​- about $ 197 million in the fiscal year 2021. And the court estimates that 75% of tax revenue comes from non-residents.

Susan Ryan, the representative of the College Office, said in a statement that the office is still looking at its good condition. “We are evaluating our options,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed in 2021, when plaintiff Mark Boles, of St. Louis County, and Kos Semonski, of St. Charles County, the return of income taxes for 2020. In previous years, the city gave them and thousands of others. reimbursement for days they traveled and worked outside the city limits. It paid out $2.9 million to about 4,000 people a year before the outbreak.

But that changed when thousands of people began working from home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including many white-collar workers who were stationed in business districts like downtown.

Daly said in 2020 that change led to a “whole variety of situations.” Workers from home, he added, are still using software from their companies in the city.

Later, the lawyers of his office argued that since there are still companies in the town that are benefiting from the services of their employees, the tax is still there.

Sengheiser disagreed. He said that the income tax law includes jobs “supplied” in the city, not “supplied in”.

“That language is very clear and unambiguous,” he wrote.

He said the collector apparently changed the policy because of his fear of high demand for refunds and a hit to the city’s budget.

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