School districts and municipalities in southwestern Allegheny County will be able to view their earned income tax records and payments as collected by Jordan Tax Service online and for free.
Representatives of more than 30 school districts and municipalities approved two policy clarifications last Thursday during a meeting of the Allegheny County South West Tax Collection Committee, which comprises 67 political subdivisions.
Mary Abbott, the South West committee's chairwoman, said Jordan has agreed to supply quarterly data files at no charge. These files will match the data and monetary distributions that school districts and municipalities receive quarterly from Jordan.
The recent actions will mean the end to potential litigation over the issue.
"The quarterlies will come right up on the screen, which we should have been able to do all along," said Green Tree manager David Montz.
However, if a municipality or school district wants scanned images, there will be a minimum $200 fee. The flash drives that Jordan will deliver annually to each political subdivision will cost a minimum of $200 each, too.
Though the 2010 agreement between Jordan and the South West committee provides for reimbursement of copying expenses, no cost is listed. Jordan had sought across-the-board $800 annual fees for the quarterly data file information, which Green Tree and some others protested, in part because of the differing sizes of the various political subdivisions.
"Jordan was sort of caught in the middle," said attorney Michael McCabe, counsel for the tax service, noting that 2012 represented the first year of the new law.
He said the tax service was "thrilled to work out a compromise."
After it encountered some resistance to its request for 2012 earned income tax data file documents, Green Tree officials filed suit in February against the South West committee and Jordan. Neighboring Scott joined in the litigation last month while a handful of other South West committee municipalities sought their own online documentation, too.
"We're pleased we were able to resolve this matter without further litigation," Mr. Montz said after last week's meeting.
Scott manager Denise Fitzgerald also said she was "very happy with the result of the meeting."
Act 32 of 2008, which divided Allegheny County into four taxing jurisdictions for the collection of earned income taxes, states that all tax records shall be the property of the political subdivisions and the tax collection district in which the taxes were collected. Because of the legislation, earned income tax collections have increased 35 percent to 40 percent, Mr. McCabe said.
Peter Molinaro Jr., attorney for Green Tree and Scott in the litigation, said the lawsuit would be held in abeyance until it is dismissed, probably in August.
In other action, Mr. Montz was elected to the South West committees' management committee as a member at large. He will replace a retiring member.
Representatives also discussed but then tabled action on an amendment to the bylaws that would reduce the number of meetings, in part because of the difficulty of getting a quorum. It was pointed out that some delegates from major municipalities and school districts fail to attend.
One representative noted that reducing the number of meetings is not a guarantee that people will attend, with Mr. Montz adding, "We shouldn't be penalized for people not wanting to show up."
Carole Gilbert Brown, freelance writer: email@example.com.