The Taxman's first victory. - KMOV.com

The Taxman's first victory.

The Farmington attorney who has challenged tax laws in tiny communities across Missouri scored his first victory Friday.

A Jefferson County judge ruled a sales tax approved by the mid-Missouri city of Iberia in 2001 was invalid and unenforcable.

Tom Burcham filed the suit alleging Iberia's sales tax was higher than allowed under state law.

"This decision will save the taxpayers of mid-Missouri about $300,000 in the next three years alone," Burcham said in an e-mailed statement.

The attorney has similar suits pending against two other small communities. Burcham claimed the cities of Ellington and Arcadia passed taxes in excess of amounts allowed under Missouri law or did not follow proper procedure when enacting local ordnances which authorize the implementation of those taxes.

A lobbying group for Missouri municipalities called the Iberia ruling a "test case" that would likely be challenged before the state Supreme Court.

Richard Sheets of the Missouri Municipal League says the law surrouding the implementation and collection of certain sales taxes is unclear, but he believes communities like Iberia acted within their power in implementing their sales taxes.

An attorney for the city of Iberia did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Burcham's motives have been questioned by Sheets and a number of city attorneys. They said it would be almost impossible to refund taxpayers in communities where a tax was ruled illegal. Burcham's motive, they claimed, was collecting thousands of dollars in attorney's fees.

The suit against Iberia awarded Burcham $20,600 in fees. In his written statement, Burcham said that money would be divided between three charities.

"It's a win, win, win," the statement read.

In a February interview with News 4 Investigates, Burcham did not deny a desire to make money off these cases, but insisted he was mostly interested in repealing what he called "illegal sales taxes."

The suit was filed on behalf of Tonya Sheets. Sheets is not resident of Iberia, but is a resident of Jefferson county and an employee of Burcham's law office.

She was awarded no damages other than the $20,600 in attorney's fees.

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