Charter sues Blount County, Maryville to recoup taxes

Charter Communications, LLC, is suing Blount County Clerk Roy Crawford, Blount County and the City of Maryville to recover more than $11,200 in taxes the cable company says it paid in protest from 2007-2008.

The cable company filed the suit simultaneously in Blount County Chancery Court March 2 while also filing against counties, cities and county court clerks from across East Tennessee. Sixty defendants were listed in the suit.

According to the suit, Charter paid about $7,400 in business taxes to Blount County and about $3,800 in business taxes to Maryville. The suit said the business taxes that Charter paid were not fairly apportioned, discriminated against interstate commerce and weren’t related to the services provided by the state.

“The defendants’ levy of the business tax against Charter is also unjust, illegal and incorrect because the business tax subjects plaintiffs to unlawful multiple taxation,” the suit said.

The suit said that imposing the business tax on Charter also was unjust, illegal and incorrect because the method of tax collection and remittance provided by the state commissioner of revenue is contrary to the express directives of the taxing statutes.

“Based on these and other errors and oversights of the defendants, the plaintiffs are entitled to a refund of business taxes paid under protest as well as a determination and declaration by this court that the application of the business tax was unjust, illegal and incorrect and therefore, void.”

Charter also asked that the defendants in the suit pay the costs and attorney’s fees associated with the suit. Attorneys Charles A. Trost, Brett R. Carter and Christopher A. Wilson represent Charter in the action.

Maryville City manager Greg McClain said he wasn’t familiar the suit but that it appeared Charter was making a case that they’re being somehow hit twice for business taxes. “Based on case they’re making, they cite other cases I’m not familiar with,” he said. “The City of Maryville will be doing like all other cities and counties and getting legal staffs to dig into the law, consider what they’re saying and go from there.”

County Mayor Jerry Cunningham said the suit was an insult. “This is an insult in view of the pitiful and poor service Charter gives to the citizens of Blount County,” Cunningham said.

The mayor said anytime Charter customers in Blount County have a problem or questions about their service, their phone calls are routed to a service center in India.

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