SubAla Delivers More Results Despite Treacherous Weather
Despite treacherous weather your SubAla lobbying team showed up at the Alabama Statehouse to continue to push for priority bills. Topping the agenda was SB268 by Sen. Del Marsh. It was a rough and tumble week with unpredictable legislative schedules. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee did meet on Tuesday and SB268 was given a favorable report. It received a Second Reading and is now postured for final Senate passage.
Under existing law, the three members of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Construction Recruitment Institute are appointed by the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House from lists of names provided by various contracting associations and groups. This bill would increase the membership of the board from three to six, would include the President Pro Tempore of the Senate as an appointing authority, and would provide that appointments be made as nominated and submitted by the providing associations and groups.
The bill is not expected to come up for another few weeks as the legislature is mandated to do Sunset bills that continue state agencies and those bills are slated as priority for the Senate.
SubAla Weighs In On BATC Backed Taxpayer Bill Of Rights
The SubAla team joined members of the Business Association Tax Coalition to tout the benefits of
HB105 by Rep. Paul DeMarco that creates an independent agency to hear tax appeals. The creation of an independent agency is a trend nationwide with over 30 states already enacting such legislation.
Two business groups have clashed over the bill, creating some tension in the Alabama legislature. NFIB testified against the bill citing that the agency created unnecessary bureaucracy. The bill is also opposed by the AEA. Testimony from that group included the unknown funding that would be required to gear up the agency.
On Thursday, the bill was brought to the floor of the Senate but Carried Over when it became apparent that a filibuster would ensue if the bill continued. Although several members were absent due to weather conditions, the bill only received 4 no votes prior to the carry over motion. This clearly indicated strong support for the passage of the measure.
SubAla will continue to aid the coalition in its efforts to push for the legislation.
Discussions with key legislators Continue As Historical Rehab and Preservation Bill Lands in Committees
Both the House and Senate have versions of bills to strengthen the historical rehab and preservation bill passed last session after decades of being introduced. Those who favor the removal of the sunset provision which ends the program in just two short years, as well a other restrictions, continue to dialogue with key leaders to explain the benefits of the revisions.
The House bill,
HB274 sponsored by Rep. Victor Gaston, R-Mobile, could be taken up by the committee sooner than later. The delay has come due to the absence of the Chairman and thus, no committee meeting. This version is expected to surface prior to the Senate version,
SB257 sponsored by Sen. Tami Irons, D-Florence
. SubAla supports the revisions.
Unemployment Compensation Revision Passes House
A bill which could benefit SubAla members passed out of the house Thursday.
HB88 by Rep. Jack Williams R- Homewood, received a final vote in the house. The bill is a revision to a current law that allows recipients to earn only $17.00 per week in part time or temporary work without any reduction in benefits.
The bill as passed would allow an individual to earn up to 1/3 of its weekly benefit without any reductions. This measure if passed, could enhance the current workforce and provide some on the job training as well as an evaluation period for the employer. The bill will be assigned to a Senate committee soon. At this time there is no Senate companion.
The bill is now postured for final passage next week by the House and could be out of Senate committee by the end of the week.
Highlights of the Tax Appeals Commission/BATC Backed Bill
*Creates the Alabama Tax Appeals Commission by Transferring the budget and functions of the current Administrative Law Division of the Dept. of Revenue. The independent agency with no additional cost to the state.
*In addition to appeals of Alabama Revenue Department-administered taxes, the bill allows taxpayers to appeal assessments of sales, use, rental or lodging tax from self-administered cities and counties and their contract auditing firms to the ATAC, unless the governing body of the city or county opts out. A city or county that opts out must offer an appeal process that parallels the ATAC function. Currently, if a taxpayer appeals an assessment levied by a self-administered locality:
-The appeal usually is heard by an employee of the locality or of a certain contract auditing firm employed by the same self-administered cities and counties making the assessment; or
-The taxpayer must appeal to each and every city and county represented by the contract auditing firm.
*Extends the appeal period for both a preliminary and final assessment by 30 days, increasing it to 60 days after either assessment is issued. The additional 30 days to appeal does not apply to individuals who file their state income tax returns late. Self-administered cities and counties have a narrow window
of time to audit a taxpayer that has received a final assessment form the Alabama Revenue Department but only for the same type of tax and same tax period.
*Eliminates the minimum $50 penalty when a taxpayer does not file an income tax return by the due date fo the individual taxpayer is owed a refund; and waives the penalty if the taxpayer owes no additional tax, such as a zero sales tax return. And files the delinquent return within 30 days of written notice from the Revenue Department.
*Extends from two years to three years the statue of limitations on filing a refund claim for income tax withheld from a taxpayer-employee's wages that is later determined to have been overpaid.
*Requires the Revenue Department to attached written description of the basis for the assessment to the preliminary and final assessment. Currently a "bare" final assessment can be issued, without any explanation as to the calculation of or legal basis of the assessment.
*Automatically nullifies a preliminary assessment that has been outstanding for more than five years as of Oct. 1, if the preliminary assessment is not withdrawn, a final assessment, which is intended to allow the parties to resolve their differences administratively, can put off the statue of limitations indefinitely. With the changes, any preliminary assessment that remains unresolved after three years may be appealed by the taxpayer.
*Allows the taxpayer Advocate to reinstate the merchant's discount for retailers who file a sales tax return late because of "reasonable cause." Currently only the Revenue Commissioner has that power.
*Broadens the "innocent spouse" relief for paying tax, interest and penalties if your spouse (or former spouse) improperly reported items or omitted items on your tax return, which is consistent with federal changes. A bill passed in 2012 only partially conformed to the pro-taxpayer federal changes.
*Increases the negligence penalty form 5 percent to 20 percent and the fraud penalty form 50 percent to 75 percent, which would make Alabama law parallel to federal law. It adds a failure-to-file penalty for certain pass-through entity returns (LLC's), capped at $1,000.
Please be sure to contact David Campbell at email@example.com with any comments or concerns on current or proposed legislation.