School district offers Measure H tax refunds

School district offers Measure H tax refunds

Michele Ellson

Schools officials have set up a procedure for commercial property owners to obtain partial refunds on the Measure H parcel tax.

The district has posted an application on its website for commercial property owners seeking refunds for taxes paid in late 2010 and 2011. The deadline for property owners seeking refunds for taxes paid in December 2010 is this coming December 15.

The final deadline for requesting a refund is April 15, 2015.

Voters approved Measure H in 2008, but a group of commercial property owners sued because the tax wasn’t applied uniformly to commercial and residential property owners. Homeowners paid $120 a year for each of the three years the tax was in effect, while commercial property owners paid a per-square-foot charge.

The school district won a local court trial. But business owners prevailed on appeal, when an appeals court determined that state law prohibited the school district from taxing different classes of property owners differently. The business owners and the school district are still negotiating the final details of a settlement.

District officials said commercial property owners who haven’t yet contacted the school district about refunds are only eligible for repayment of Measure H taxes paid in late 2010 and early 2011. Property owners who contacted the district about potential refunds before Friday may be eligible for refunds dating back to their original contact date., but they are still required to fill out the application to receive it.

"Because we are aware that the claims period will be coming to an end, we wanted to make this process as smooth and simple as possible," Interim Superintendent Sean McPhetridge was quoted as saying in a press release the district issued Friday. "We urge commercial property owners who want a refund to file soon so that they can get their refunds."

The school board voted in 2013 to repurpose $5.8 million in reserves it had already set aside to cover any refunds that were to be paid to commercial property owners after the Alameda County Office of Education’s top financial official questioned the lack of a formal accounting for the payments in the district’s budget. County offices of education provide some oversight of local school district budgets.

The attorney who represented business owners who sued the school district over the tax declined to comment Friday.