BILL ANALYSIS S.B. 403 By: Cain (Junell) April 17, 1995 Committee Report (Amended) BACKGROUND Section 191.142, Tax Code, imposes a $200 tax, per year, on attorneys licensed by the state. Currently, the tax is administered by the comptroller rather than the Supreme Court. The comptroller has no authority to revoke a license for nonpayment; therefore, some attorneys may ignore the fee and become delinquent. PURPOSE This bill grants the Supreme Court the authority to administer the annual collection of the attorney tax, and requires the Supreme Court to suspend the license of anyone who does not pay the tax. This bill would implement part of Gaining Ground recommendation GG6. (GG6 would also restructure the tax as a fee) RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the committee's opinion that this bill does expressly grant additional rulemaking authority to the State Bar of Texas, with Supreme Court approval, in SECTION 1 of the bill. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Subchapter H (Attorneys), Chapter 191 (Miscellaneous Occupation Taxes), Tax Code, as follows: Amends Section 191.141 to add the definition of "state bar." Adds Section 191.1431 METHOD OF COLLECTION. Requires the Supreme Court to administer the collection of taxes under this subchapter. Adds Section 191.1441 SUSPENSION AND REINSTATEMENT. (a) Requires the Supreme Court to suspend from the practice of law a person who does not pay, within 90 days after the due date, the tax or a relating penalty. (b) Requires an attorney suspended under subsection (a) to be reinstated on payment of the tax and any interest and penalties. Adds Section 191.1442 PENALTY AND INTEREST. (a) Requires a penalty of five percent of the tax due to be imposed on a person who fails to pay the tax or fails to file a report when due. Requires an additional five percent penalty to be imposed if the person fails to file the report or pay the tax within 30 days after the tax or report is due. (b) Establishes the yearly interest rate on delinquent tax as 12 percent, beginning 60 days from the due date. Adds Section 191.1443 RULES. Grants the State Bar of Texas, with Supreme Court approval, the authority to adopt policies and rules for the administration and collection of, and exemptions from, the tax. Amends Section 191.145 (Distribution of Tax) to require the Supreme Court to forward tax received to the state for deposit. SECTION 2. Provides that all forms and policies adopted by the comptroller for the administration of Chapter 191, Tax Code, in effect on the effective date of this Act, remain in effect until amended or repealed by the State Bar of Texas. SECTION 3. Provides that liability accruing before the effective date of this Act continues in effect, and that the former law is continued in effect for the collection of taxes due as of the effective date and for enforcement of the liability for those taxes. Requires the comptroller, as soon as practicable on or after the effective date, to transfer all unpaid accounts and files to the Supreme Court of Texas. SECTION 4. Effective Date: June 1, 1995. SECTION 5. Emergency Clause. EXPLANATION OF AMENDMENTS COMMITTEE AMENDMENT NO. 1 adds a new SECTION 4 to the bill, and renumbers the remaining Sections accordingly. SECTION 4, as amended, provides that any attorney tax proceedings that are not final on the effective date of the transfer of functions provided by this bill, remain under the jurisdiction of the Comptroller. SUMMARY OF COMMITTEE ACTION Public notice was posted in accordance with the rules, and a public hearing was held on April 11, 1995. Representative Junell explained the bill. The Committee considered committee amendment #1 by Representative Craddick. Without objection, the committee adopted committee amendment #1. By a record vote of 9 ayes, 0 nays, 0 present not voting and 2 absent, the committee voted to report S.B. 403 to the House as amended with the recommendation that it do pass. Testimony received in favor of the bill: Antonio Alvarado, representing himself and the State Bar of Texas.