Section 11-51-191

Determination of amounts due; preliminary and final assessments; review; appeal; refund for overpayment.

(a) If the taxing jurisdiction determines that the amount of any business license tax reported on or remitted with a business license remittance form is incorrect, if no business license remittance form is filed within the time prescribed, or if the information provided on the form is insufficient to allow the taxing jurisdiction to determine the proper amount of business license tax due, the taxing jurisdiction may calculate the correct amount of the tax based on the most accurate and complete information reasonably obtainable. The taxing jurisdiction may thereafter enter a preliminary assessment for the correct amount of business license tax, including any applicable penalty and interest. Nothing contained herein shall limit or restrict a municipality's right to seek injunctive relief under Section 11-51-150, et seq.

(b) If the amount of business license tax remitted by the taxpayer is undisputed by the taxing jurisdiction, or the taxpayer consents to the amount of any deficiency or preliminary assessment in writing, the jurisdiction may immediately enter a final assessment for the amount of the tax due, plus any applicable penalty and interest.

(c)(1) All preliminary and final assessments of business licenses issued by a municipality or its designee shall be executed as provided by its business license ordinance or code.

(2) Any preliminary assessment shall be entered within four years from the due date of the business license form, or four years from the date the form is filed, whichever is later, except as follows:

a. A preliminary assessment may be entered at any time if no license form is filed as required, or if a false or fraudulent license form is filed with the intent to evade the business license tax.

b. A preliminary assessment may be entered within six years from the due date of the license form or six years from the date the license form is filed with the taxing jurisdiction, whichever date occurs last, if the taxpayer omits or fails to report an amount in excess of 25 percent of its gross receipts or other applicable business license tax base.

c. A preliminary assessment may be entered within five years from the due date of the license form, or five years from the date the form is filed, whichever is later, if the taxpayer or its authorized agent fails or refuses to execute and return to the taxing jurisdiction or its agent a written extension of the statute of limitations on issuing preliminary assessments for up to eight months, as requested by the taxing jurisdiction or its agent, within 30 days after receipt of the request for extension by the taxpayer or its authorized agent.

(3) The preliminary assessment entered by the taxing jurisdiction, or a copy thereof, shall promptly upon entry be mailed by the taxing jurisdiction to the taxpayer's last known address by either first class U.S. mail or certified U.S. mail with return receipt requested, but at the option of the taxing jurisdiction, the preliminary assessment may be delivered to the taxpayer by personal delivery.

(d)(1) If a taxpayer disagrees with a preliminary assessment as entered by the taxing jurisdiction, the taxpayer may file a petition for review with the taxing jurisdiction within 30 days from the date of entry of the preliminary assessment setting out the specific objections to the preliminary assessment. If a petition for review is timely filed, or if the taxing jurisdiction otherwise deems it necessary, the license officer of the municipality shall schedule a conference with the taxpayer for the purpose of allowing the taxpayer or its representatives and the representatives of the taxing jurisdiction to present their respective positions, discuss any omissions or errors, and to attempt to agree upon any changes or modifications to their respective positions.

(2) If a petition for review:

a. Is not timely filed, or

b. Is timely filed, and upon further review the license officer determines that the preliminary assessment is due to be upheld in whole or in part, the taxing jurisdiction may make the assessment final in the amount of business license tax due as computed by the license officer, with applicable interest and penalty computed to the date of entry of the final assessment. The license officer shall, whenever practicable, complete his or her review of the taxpayer's petition for review and applicable law within 90 days following the later of the date of filing of the petition or the conference, if any.

(3) The final assessment entered by the taxing jurisdiction, or a copy thereof, shall promptly upon entry be mailed to the taxpayer's last known address a. by either first class U.S. mail or certified U.S. mail with return receipt requested in the case of assessments of business license tax of five hundred dollars ($500) or less, or b. by certified U.S. mail with return receipt requested in the case of assessments of business license tax of more than five hundred dollars ($500). In either case and at the option of the taxing jurisdiction, the final assessment, or a copy thereof, may be delivered to the taxpayer by personal delivery.

(e)(1) A taxpayer may appeal from any final assessment entered hereunder by the taxing jurisdiction by filing a notice of appeal, within 30 days from the date of entry of the final assessment, with the license officer, who shall promptly forward a copy of the notice of appeal and related documents to the administrative hearing officer appointed by the taxing jurisdiction to hear appeals of final assessments of the municipality's sales, use, rental, and lodging taxes, as applicable, and business license taxes. The administrative hearing officer shall function in a manner similar to the Administrative Law Judge of the Department of Revenue and must be impartial and reasonably knowledgeable of the business license laws and the taxing jurisdiction's business license code or ordinances. The administrative hearing officer may be an employee of the taxing jurisdiction or otherwise, but in no event shall he or she charge or otherwise be compensated for his or her services in whole or in part based on the portion or amount of the final assessment that he or she determines should be upheld, or any similar contingency. No filing fee or supersedeas bond shall be required by the taxing jurisdiction for such appeals.

(2) In lieu of the appeal under subdivision (1) to the administrative hearing officer, and at the option of the taxpayer, the taxpayer may appeal from any final assessment hereunder to the circuit court of the county having jurisdiction over the municipality which issued or on whose behalf the final assessment was issued, by filing a notice of appeal within 30 days from the date of entry of the final assessment with both the municipal clerk of the municipality and the clerk of the circuit court. If the appeal is to the circuit court, and if the taxpayer is the appealing party, the taxpayer shall also, within the 30-day period allowed for appeal, either a. pay the business license tax, interest, and any penalty shown as due on the final assessment, or b. file a supersedeas bond with the clerk of the court in double the amount of the business license tax, interest, and any penalty shown as due on the final assessment, or in such amount as may be required by Section 40-2A-7, as amended from time to time. The supersedeas bond shall be executed by a surety company licensed and authorized to do business in Alabama and shall be conditioned to pay the final assessment plus applicable interest and any court costs relating to the appeal. If the taxpayer is the appealing party and is able to show to the satisfaction of the clerk of the court that he or she has a net worth, on the basis of fair market value, of twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) or less, including his or her homestead, and that the final assessment is equal to or less than the taxpayer's net worth, the taxpayer may file and prosecute the appeal without either paying the final assessment in full or posting a supersedeas bond. A taxpayer may appeal a final assessment to the circuit court, as provided herein, even though the taxpayer has paid the amount shown as due on the assessment prior to filing the appeal.

(3) The filing of the notice of appeal with both the municipal clerk of the municipality and the clerk of the circuit court in which the appeal is filed, as well as the payment of the final assessment in full or the filing of a supersedeas bond when required above, are jurisdictional. If such prerequisites are not satisfied within the time provided for appeal, the appeal shall be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. On appeal to the circuit court, the final assessment shall be prima facie correct, and the burden of proof shall be on the taxpayer to prove the assessment is incorrect.

(4) If a final assessment is reduced on appeal, any overpayment shall promptly be refunded to the taxpayer by the taxing jurisdiction together with interest to the extent allowed by Section 11-51-192.

(5) No court shall have the power to enjoin the collection of any business license tax due on an assessment so appealed or to suspend the payment thereof.

(f) Either the taxpayer or the taxing jurisdiction may appeal to the circuit court from a final order issued by the administrative hearing officer by filing a notice of appeal with the administrative hearing officer and with the circuit court of the county having jurisdiction over the municipality which issued, or on whose behalf the final assessment was issued, within 30 days from the date of entry of the final order. The procedures, presumptions, and related matters and rules shall conform in all material respects to those applicable to appeals from final orders of the Alabama Tax Tribunal under Chapter 2B of Title 40.

(g)(1) Any taxpayer may file a petition for refund with the taxing jurisdiction for any overpayment of business license tax erroneously paid to that jurisdiction. If a final assessment for the tax has been entered by the taxing jurisdiction, a petition for refund of all or a portion of the tax may be filed only if the final assessment has been paid in full prior to or simultaneously with the filing of the petition for refund.

(2) A petition for refund shall be filed with the taxing jurisdiction within a. three years from the date that the business license form was filed, or b. two years from the date of payment of the business license tax which is the subject of the petition, whichever is later, or if no form was timely filed, two years from the date of payment of the business license tax.

(3) The taxing jurisdiction shall either grant or deny a petition for refund within six months from the date the petition is filed, unless the period is extended by written agreement of the taxpayer and the taxing jurisdiction. The taxpayer shall be notified of the taxing jurisdiction's decision concerning the petition for refund by first class U.S. mail or by certified U.S. mail, return receipt requested, sent to the taxpayer's last known address. If the taxing jurisdiction fails to grant a full refund within the time provided herein, the petition for refund shall be deemed to be denied.

(4) If the petition is granted, or the taxing jurisdiction or a court otherwise determines that a refund is due, the overpayment shall be promptly refunded to the taxpayer by the taxing jurisdiction, together with interest to the extent provided in Section 11-51-192. If the taxing jurisdiction or a court determines that a refund is due, the amount of overpayment plus any interest due thereon may first be credited by the taxing jurisdiction against any outstanding final tax liabilities due and owing by the taxpayer to the jurisdiction, and the balance of any overpayment shall be promptly refunded to the taxpayer. If any refund or part thereof is credited to any other tax by the taxing jurisdiction, the taxpayer shall be provided with a written detailed statement showing the amount of overpayment, the amount credited for payment to other taxes, and the amount refunded.

(5)a. A taxpayer may appeal from the denial in whole or in part of a petition for refund by filing a notice of appeal with the clerk of the circuit court of the county in which the municipality denying the petition for refund is located by filing the notice of appeal within two years from the date the petition is denied. The circuit court shall hear the appeal according to its own rules and procedures and shall determine the correct amount of refund due, if any.

b. If an appeal is not filed with the appropriate circuit court within two years of the date the petition is denied, then the appeal shall be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction.

c. In the discretion of the governing body of a municipality, by ordinance duly adopted, the provisions of this section may also be applied to one or more of its other taxes not already governed by the Alabama Taxpayers' Bill of Rights and Uniform Revenue Procedures Act, Chapter 2A, Title 40.

(Act 2006-586, p. 1548, §3; Act 2015-316, §1(b)(2); Act 2015-368, §1(b)(2).)