St. Louis City appeals ruling that would refund earnings tax for remote workers

Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 6:40 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2023 at 5:50 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - The City of St. Louis is appealing an earlier ruling that would refund the earnings tax for remote workers, according to court documents obtained by News 4.

In January, attorneys Bevis Schock and Mark Milton won a case for six plaintiffs. The attorneys argued that those who work remotely but pay St. Louis City earnings tax should be entitled to a refund, despite what it says on the refund form.

Currently, anybody working in the city, or people that live in the city, are required to give one-percent of their wages to St. Louis. Before the pandemic hit, St. Louis City issued refunds for out-of-city residents on days they worked remotely, but that changed when folks wanted refunds for 2020.

“So what happened was Mr. (Gregory) Daly changed his rules,” said Schock.

Milton and Schock took a bit of a victory lap after the January ruling. They pointed to Circuit Court Judge Jason Sengheiser’s ruling, saying Collector of Revenue Gregory Daly flipped policy illegally. And that move came right when many people began working from home.

“The collector always interpreted the way we did by the way, and then just changed course out of fear of lost revenue. And that’s not the way our laws work,” said Milton.

The ruling requires the city to pay six people back their refunds and they say they’re organizing for a class action lawsuit appeal, after the initial class action lawsuit was dismissed. The two men said if you’re in that situation, you are still eligible for a refund for 2022 and even 2021.

“The law is clear that if you’re not physically working in the city, you’re not liable for those days,” said Milton.

This goes against what is clearly on the Collector of Revenue’s earning tax refund request form, which states “Employees who work remotely from home should be treated as working at their original principal place of work.”

“The collector today still has that form on their website and we’re exploring different avenues. We may have to challenge that form again in light of this ruling,” said Milton.

After the January ruling, the office for Collector of Revenue Daly told News 4 they’re still reviewing their options. They filed an appeal on March 6.

The city of St. Louis depends on the earning tax money revenue. In the 2022 fiscal year, it gave the city around $196 million. That figure is over one-third of the city’s general fund.