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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Mo. Supreme Court rules the former St. Louis Rams are liable for unpaid sales tax

By Dee Thompson | Aug 24, 2017

Law money 10

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) – The Missouri Supreme Court has ruled that the former St. Louis Rams owe $335,000 in state sales tax that went unpaid from 2007 to 2013.

The case has been in dispute since 2013, despite the fact the team returned to Los Angeles in 2016. The court released its opinion Aug. 1.

An entertainment license tax (ELT) to sell NFL game tickets was required by the city of St. Louis. The Rams passed that amount on to purchasers of game tickets. They then remitted the tax to the city from 2007 to 2013. 

In April 2011, the Rams applied for a refund of state sales tax paid equal to the ELT they included in their gross receipts, alleging the ELT was included erroneously," the opinion says. 

"The director denied the Rams’ application. In December 2011, the Rams petitioned for a refund and requested an evidentiary hearing before the (Administrative Hearing) Commission.”

Another issue that arose was that when the Rams calculated the state sales tax that they owed for the period of Feb. 1, 2010, through Jan. 31, 2013, they didn’t include the ELT in their gross receipts. The Rams filed a petition in August 2013 that challenged the assessment and they requested an evidentiary hearing before the Commission. 

In its 2013 ruling, the Administrative Hearing Commission ruled in the Rams’ favor. The decision was that the Rams would not have to pay the $335,000 and they should get a refund for the $401,000 taxes already paid.

The Director of Revenue challenged the decision. It argued that the Rams didn’t qualify for an exclusion from the sales tax because under the tax code “admission” is defined as the amount paid to admit the person and seat them. 

According to the Supreme Court’s decision, “The Rams argue the ELT is akin to the cigarette tax, and they were acting as a tax collection agent for the city, thereby urging this court to find the city is the ultimate beneficiary of the ELT, not the Rams. This court disagrees.” 

The opinion issued by the Missouri Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Administrative Hearing Commission and remanded the case. 

The opinion concludes by saying “The Commission erred in finding the Rams did not have to pay sales tax on the ELT they included and collected from ticket purchasers as the amount paid for admission from Feb. 1, 2007, through Jan. 31, 2010, and Feb. 1, 2010, through Jan. 31, 2013. The Commission’s decision is reversed, and the cause is remanded.”

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