April 17, 2018 – The Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles has granted preliminary approval to a $16.6 million settlement in a decade-long class action seeking telephone tax refunds on behalf of taxpayers in the City of Long Beach. Under the settlement, class members can receive refunds of up to 100% of the utility users tax they paid on telephone service from August 11, 2005 and December 19, 2008.
The lawsuit, McWilliams v. City of Long Beach, was filed in 2006 challenging the City’s imposition of a Utility Users Tax (“UUT”) on long distance, mobile, and other telephone services. The lawsuit was filed in conjunction with two other lawsuits, Ardon v. City of Los Angeles and McWilliams v. City of Long Beach, in which the plaintiffs asserted similar claims. In 2011 and 2013, the plaintiffs won landmark appeals in the California Supreme Court allowing the taxpayers to bring class action claims for tax refunds under the California Government Code.
In order to receive refunds under the settlement, class members must complete and submit a claim form. Class members can receive refunds of $46 for mobile telephone service and/or $27.50 for residential landline service without documentary proof of the tax paid, or they can claim 100% of the tax paid on mobile service and 70% of the tax paid on landline service by submitting copies of bills, or by providing consent for certain carriers to provide tax payment data to the claims administrator.
Class members should go to the settlement website to submit a claim, at www.LBTaxRefund.com. The deadline to file claims is September 15, 2018.
The plaintiffs and class members are represented by Nicholas E. Chimicles and Timothy N. Mathews of Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP, along with their co-counsel Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP, Cuneo Gilbert & LaDuca, LLP, and Tostrud Law Group, PC.