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Rams claim state overtaxes team

Thursday - 12/26/2013, 12:40pm  ET

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Attorneys for the St. Louis Rams have filed a tax appeal with the state of Missouri, seeking a refund of about $400,000.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1cB9iuP ) reports that the Rams have also asked the state to forgive an additional $445,000 in unpaid taxes. So far, the state has refused to give any money back to the NFL team.

The Rams have contested tax assessments before -- they've filed six appeals since 2008, amounting to $4.7 million at face value.

There's no way to tell what happened with each case, but the Missouri Department of Revenue says four of the cases were settled. The state would not offer details, claiming that sales tax receipts are closed records.

A message seeking comment from the Rams on Thursday was not returned.

The Post-Dispatch reported that the appeals began after a state audit in September 2008, when the Rams were told that the team owed nearly $1.4 million in unpaid taxes on luxury club memberships. The Rams protested that assessment -- the first of the six appeals.

"Some people are just a little more aggressive in trying to diminish their state tax bills," said Henry Ordower, a tax law professor at Saint Louis University. He said appeals have been more common in recent years because states have sought ways to increase their tax collection.

"Every state has been more assertive in collecting state taxes," Ordower said. "States need money."

The Rams collect about 4 percent in state sales tax, 4.5 percent in city sales tax and an additional 5 percent for the city amusement tax, totaling about $13.50 on a $100 ticket.

The team also sells something called a "club membership." Club memberships add $1,000 on top of the ticket price, and members get food and beverage discounts, entry to draft previews, training camp practices and special events, and other benefits.

In the 2008 filing, the Rams argued that club memberships are benefits, not tickets, and shouldn't be subjected to sales taxes.

In the other appeals, the team argued it is not subject to states sales tax at all. Then in 2011, the Rams said they discovered they were "erroneously" calculating sales taxes on a base ticket price inflated by the city taxes. That means the city was collecting about 40 cents too much on each $100 ticket.

That led to appeals for reimbursement of $401,000 and $445,000 over the past two years.

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com


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