This week Attorney General Greg Abbott issued his opinion on when District Court Clerks should begin collecting a new $20 fee for electronic filing created by House Bill 2302, enacted during the most recent legislative session.
House Bill 2302 mandated that Texas District Clerks begin collecting a new $20 electronic filing fee on filings in all civil proceedings. District Clerks across the state disagreed on the correct date to begin collecting the new fee. Citing an exception to a requirement that all new fees can only be imposed on the January 1 following the date of enactment, House Bill 2302 directed district clerks to begin collecting the new e-file fee on September 1, 2013. However, Senate Bill 390 repealed the exception on which House Bill 2302 seemed to rely. Further confusing the matter, the Texas State Comptroller published its list of all newly enacted fees in the Texas Register indicating that the new $20 e-file fee should be collected starting January 1, 2014.
The Bexar County District Clerk sought advice from Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed regarding the proper collection date for the new e-file fee. After her review, the District Attorney recognized that potential liability could reach into the millions of dollars if court clerks across Texas began collecting the new e-file fee improperly. Failing to collect the fee on September 1 could have subjected counties to claims from the State; however, if January 1 was the correct collection date, collecting the fee early could have subjected counties to citizen claims for charging an unauthorized fee. Accordingly, the District Attorney directed the Bexar County District Clerk to begin collecting the new e-file fee but place those fees in escrow pending resolution of the issue by the DA’s submission of an opinion request to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott. The Attorney General’s opinion handed down yesterday determined that September 1, 2013 is the proper collection date.
For more information, please contact Ed Schweninger, Chief of the Civil Section at 335-2141.