Judge will decide whether Frank White or prosecutor controls anti-drug sales tax funds

The Jackson County Legislature is asking a judge to enforce its recent ordinance that transfers control of the anti-drug and anti-violence agency COMBAT from County Executive Frank White to the prosecuting attorney’s office. White has ignored the legislature’s wishes since that body overrode his veto of the ordinance, prompting something of a crisis within some parts of county government. Last week, the acting chief of the finance department was put on paid leave after refusing to transfer funds out of COMBAT at White’s direction to partly cover the salaries of White aides whose positions the legislature eliminated. In filing the suit, the legislature set aside for now a proposal from legislator Dan Tarwater to ask the Missouri attorney general to intervene and look at a range of other issues, including questions about White’s eligibility to run for office in 2016, as well as a secret deal to save his house from foreclosure. The Star reported last week that White swore “under penalties of perjury” that all his state and local taxes were current when he declared his candidacy in 2016 for county executive when in fact he was past due in paying his 2013 state income taxes. White said it was an oversight. Last month the newspaper reported that a political supporter who does business with the county quietly helped White avoid losing his house to foreclosure in 2016, which Tarwater and others said raised at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. Tarwater said he still has the five votes he would need to ask for Attorney General Josh Hawley’s assistance. But for now he said the court action would lead to a faster resolution on who controls COMBAT, which he said was more pressing than White’s personal issues. Plus, he said Hawley would likely refer any investigation of White’s financial issues to Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, who he said “is still looking at things.” Legislator Continue Reading

EDITORIAL: Tick Segerblom crafts a scheme to impose a higher sales tax on Clark County residents

Ronda Churchill/Las Vegas Review-Journal Clark County’s 8.25 percent sales tax is relatively high compared to other jurisdictions across the country. But state Sen. Tick Segerblom, a Democrat, yearns to make it an even greater burden for county residents. Sen. Segerblom, an attorney by trade, is perhaps best known as the happy frontman for legalized pot in Nevada. But during his 11 years in the Legislature, he’s also gained a well-deserved reputation for supporting every proposal to loot state taxpayers of more money — and Sen. Segerblom’s haughty disdain for those who pay the bills comes through loud and clear in his latest proposal. Appearing on “Nevada Newsmakers” late last year, Sen. Segerblom unveiled a plan to increase the county sales tax by 1 percentage point. The funds would be earmarked for the Clark County School District. Keep in mind that this comes barely two years after lawmakers in 2015 passed the largest tax increase in state history — $1.4 billion — to boost school spending. Alas, not everybody shares Sen. Segerblom’s desire to bury state residents under a mass of higher and higher levies. In particular, he noted during the interview, “We just need to cut ourselves loose from Northern Nevada and their ‘don’t tax me, don’t tax me’ mentality.” In addition, Nevadans in 1994 and 1996 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds legislative majority to raise taxes. This handcuff was designed explicitly to restrain politicians such as Sen. Segerblom who are addicted to mainlining other people’s money — and it also threatens to put the kibosh on his sales tax proposal because local authorities face a legislative cap on the levy. Sen. Segerblom, however, would prefer to ignore the will of state voters and find a loophole to neuter the two-thirds requirement. To that end, he says the legal minds at the Legislative Counsel Continue Reading

Ringgold, Ga., Catoosa County at odds over sales tax

Ringgold, Ga., and Fort Oglethorpe city officials will make their pitches for $21 million today. The two cities and Catoosa County commissioners will hold a special called meeting at 10 a.m. to discuss the upcoming Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, which county administrators believe will bring in $60 million over five years. Of that money, the county is laying claim to $39 million. And what of the rest of the money? At Tuesday's meeting, County Manager Jim Walker thought everybody was in agreement: Fort Oglethorpe would take $13.5 million, and Ringgold would take $7.5 million. But after the meeting, Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright said his city council might not be happy with the arrangement. The Catoosa County Commission agreed to bring everybody back to the table. They hope to have a final plan for SPLOST spending by Tuesday. Catoosa County Manager Jim Walker Catoosa County Manager Jim Walker Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press. Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright speaks during a work session Monday, July 31, 2017, at the Catoosa County Colonnade in Ringgold, Ga. The Catoosa County Commission, Ringgold City Council and Fort Oglethorpe City Council held an Intergovernmental Work Session to discuss how to divide sales tax revenue, the state of the county jail and more. Ringgold City Manager Dan Wright speaks during a... Photo by Erin O. Smith Ringgold Councilwoman Sara Clark and Mayor Nick Millwood talk during a work session Monday, July 31, 2017, at the Catoosa County Colonnade in Ringgold, Ga. The Catoosa County Commission, Ringgold City Council and Fort Oglethorpe City Council held an Intergovernmental Work Session to discuss how to divide sales tax revenue, the state of the county jail and more. Ringgold Councilwoman Sara Clark and Mayor Nick Millwood... Photo by Erin O. Smith "What we want is to be is fair with both cities," County Commissioner Jim Cutler said in an interview Thursday. But what is fair, exactly? Continue Reading

EXCLUSIVE: Cousin of ‘Mob Wives’ star accused of swindling state out of $100G in sales tax at Staten Island bar

The tax man was the monkey on her back. The cousin of “Mob Wives” star Big Ang has been busted on tax fraud charges, accused of stiffing the state out of $100,000 in sales tax owed by the reality show personality’s Staten Island bar, the Drunken Monkey. SallyAnn Lombardi, 57, Angela (Big Ang) Raiola’s cousin was arrested Tuesday on felony grand larceny and criminal tax fraud charges. She’s accused of collecting sales tax at the Forest Ave. bar in West Brighton, but never sending that money to the state. She never filed any tax returns between 2009 and 2015, when the bar was open for business under her ownership, according to a criminal complaint. The state shuttered the Drunken Monkey in 2015, after learning that Raiola, a convicted felon, was a silent owner. Raiola pleaded guilty in 2003 in a federal drug-dealing case, and state law prohibited her from owning a bar without getting special permission from the state. Still, a State Liquor Authority probe found she was listed as a signatory an a bank account connected to the bar, and received power of attorney over the Drunken Monkey after Lombardi got into a car crash in 2009, the Staten Island Advance reported in 2015. The state’s investigation came a year after a 46-year-old man took a fatal punch to the head while breaking up a fight outside the bar. Raiola died in February after a battle with cancer. Lombardi told the Daily News Tuesday that she’s been in dire financial shape since the car crash, and the bar didn’t start making money until Raiola became a TV star. “She was my best friend, my first cousin and my partner. It’s horrible. She’s not even gone a year, and she’s turning over in her grave, believe me,” Lombardi said of the arrest. Raiola took over the bills after she became famous, Lombardi said. “I don’t Continue Reading

Art dealer Larry Gagosian to pay back $4.28M in sales taxes on $40M worth of works sold over the past decade

International art dealer Larry Gagosian agreed to pay $4.28 million in sales taxes on $40 million worth of art that his companies sold over the last decade, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Tuesday. Schneiderman said that Gagosian Gallery and its California affiliate, Pre-War Art, Inc., failed to collect state and local sales taxes from 2005 to 2015 on art shipped by Pre-War to New York customers and other works bought at Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan, but shipped out of state. Schneiderman said art is like anything else when it is shipped to customers in the state: Vendors must include state and local sales taxes on the bill. Likewise, he said, sales taxes must be applied to art that is bought in New York and shipped out of state if the shipping is done by a special carrier hired by the purchaser. In addition to paying back taxes, Gagosian agreed to have Pre-War provide sales information to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance for the next six years and to create a division, GG Shipping, to handle the shipment of art from Gagosian Gallery in Manhattan to out-of-state customers. The Gagosian Gallery issued a statement Tuesday, saying "although we cannot comment on these findings, we accept and will fully comply with the terms of the settlement to bring closure to this matter."  Continue Reading

Alec Baldwin allegedly evades ‘counterfeit’ painting sales tax amid Manhattan art gallery suit

Alec Baldwin failed to pay more than $16,000 in New York State sales tax when he bought a painting now at the heart of an ongoing legal dispute, the Manhattan gallery being sued by the actor alleged in court Thursday. Mary Boone, who has galleries in Midtown and Chelsea in her name, says the “Saturday Night Live” Donald Trump impersonator failed to pony up his fair share of taxes when he bought Bleckner’s “Sea and Mirror” from her in 2010. “Given his previous bad behavior, we were not surprised,” Boone’s lawyer, Ted Poretz, said in a statement. In September, Baldwin sued Boone, arguing she fraudulently substituted a painting for the one that he thought he purchased for $190,000. He long admired the artwork and says he was told it was an original from 1996. But several art experts in May 2016 told him that was unlikely. Boone’s attorney insists Baldwin knew from the start that he was not getting an original. The gallery has offered a full refund, Poretz says. On Thursday, Boone moved to have the case dismissed, arguing Baldwin waited too long — more than six years — to file the case. “While Ms. Boone remains a highly respected gallerist in New York and abroad, this incident has only proven that Mr. Baldwin is in need of anger management and an art history lesson,” Poretz said. Baldwin’s attorney, John Hueston, says “Ms. Boone’s answer to Mr. Baldwin’s complaint is little more than smears and diversionary tactics. And that is because she does not appear to have a real answer: tellingly, she fails to deny that she sold Mr. Baldwin a counterfeit of the original painting that he long admired.” Continue Reading

Republican-led group: Peoria illegally promoting Prop. 400 sales-tax increase

A Republican-led committee opposing Peoria’s sales-tax hike on the ballot in November has filed a complaint alleging the misuse of tax dollars to promote the initiative to voters.The complaint, filed last week, accuses city leaders of illegally appropriating public funds to promote the 0.4 percent city sales increase by endorsing literature distributed at city meetings and events, and sent to voters in their water bills, along with promotion on the city’s website and on the side of city sanitation vehicles.The attorney representing No Forever Tax, No on Proposition 400, a committee started by two Republican state lawmakers, sent the complaint to Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Maricopa County Bill Montgomery and Peoria City Clerk Rhonda Geriminsky.Geriminsky forwarded the complaint to Acting City Attorney Steve Burg for review and possible action. As of Monday, Peoria spokeswoman Jen Stein said the city had not been contacted by outside attorneys at any level of government, and Burg recommended no further actions by the city.The tax increase would raise Peoria’s city sales tax rate from 1.8 percent to 2.2 percent indefinitely, aiming to raise about $146 million in about eight years for public amenities in the north side of the city and some improvements in other areas.The money would pay for preservation of natural landmarks and open spaces while also funding public safety improvements, city street upgrades and parks and recreation options.The opposing committee’s attorney Kory Langhofer, who works for the Phoenix-based law firm Statecraft, said Peoria's actions equate to a propaganda campaign enacted illegally by city leaders.“It’s pretty clear it’s from the city,” Langhofer said. “It’s a very comprehensive campaign that the average, privately-funded group wouldn’t be able to afford. They’re using tax dollars which are basically bottomless.”Stein Continue Reading

Tennessee pursues internet sales tax for out-of-state companies

A Tennessee tax proposal is meant to level the playing field between in-state and out-of-state online retailers and is part of a larger effort to force Congress or the U.S. Supreme Court to address the issue at the federal level.The proposed rule, put forward by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration, would require out-of-state businesses to collect and pay a sales tax if their sales exceed $500,000 in Tennessee. Alabama and South Dakota have passed similar legislation, and lawsuits are pending in both states.“There needs to be fairness between in-state sellers and out-of-state sellers, in terms of in-state sellers required to collect sales tax and they are in competition with out-of-state sellers,” said David Gerregano, Department of Revenue deputy commissioner. “Tennessee does rely heavily on the sales tax, so it is important that it is applied fairly.”Under a 1992 Supreme Court decision, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, businesses must have a physical presence in a state to collect a sales tax from consumers. Legislation has been filed to change this, given the growth of internet sales, but Congress has failed to pass any measures."There is the sentiment out there that out-of-state internet companies are able to take a competitive edge because they are able to transact business and not have to collect a sales tax," Chris Wilson, a business tax attorney at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, said. "There has been a push by states for a while now to try to push back against that 1992 Quill decision."The Tennessee Retail Association is among groups supporting the measure. Roland Myers, its CEO, said consumers will often seek sales advice in local stores and make purchases from online retailers to lower their cost."This means that Tennessee retailers are not just prevented from competing on an even playing field with online retailers, but effectively subsidizing their business model with Continue Reading

First increase in city sales tax in 35 years could net $950M a year

It's only pennies for most purchases, but New Yorkers still felt the pinch of Saturday's sales tax hike. The rate went up half a percentage point - from 8.375% to 8.875% - which will cost consumers an extra 50 cents for every $100 they spend. It's the first permanent tax rise in more than 35 years and could generate as much as $950 million a year in revenue for the cash-strapped city. Bargain-hunters said the hike wouldn't stop them from shopping - and some didn't even realize the tax was higher. "Wow, that's irresponsible of me, I didn't even notice," said John Painz, 36, a graphic designer from Tribeca who was buying toiletries in a downtown Duane Reade. "It's just one more thing that's pricing New Yorkers out of New York." "What are you gonna do? The economy sucks right now so they're raising taxes," said attorney Yoev Griver, 42, who lives near Union Square. "I think it's unfortunate and it'll send people to New Jersey even more." New Jersey's rate is 7%. A family earning $75,000 a year will now pay an estimated $170 more in sales tax over the course of a year, the Independent Budget Office estimates. For small-ticket items, shoppers will shell out a few more pennies here and there. Those digging deep to buy cars or expensive electronics, will feel it more. Like student Chris Garcia, 20, from Hillside, Queens, who bought a Honda Civic for $24,605, including taxes, Saturday. That's $113 more than he would have paid before the hike. "Either way, I have to pay taxes. There's nothing much I can do," he lamented. "It's not gonna stop me." At Kings Palace Mall in Queens at least one shopper said the hike didn't bother her if the money was going to plug the budget gap. "If they did it to fix the economy, then I don't care," said Sandra Ramos. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

35 states and DC back bid to collect online sales taxes

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Thirty-five state attorneys general and the District of Columbia this week signed on to support South Dakota's legal bid to collect sales taxes from out-of-state Internet retailers.South Dakota is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review whether retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they lack a physical presence. The case could have national implications for e-commerce.South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley said in a statement Thursday that Colorado filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting South Dakota's petition to the high court. The state is seeking to overturn legal rulings issued mostly before the online shopping boom that hamstring officials who want to collect sales taxes from out-of-state retailers."South Dakota is leading the national fight to bring tax fairness for our local retailers and to help support main street businesses," Jackley said.The support includes neighboring Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Wyoming. The other states are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.The brief says the jurisdictions all rely on consumption taxes to fund essential government operations.States have pushed Congress to address the issue without success, and one estimate put the loss to states at roughly $26 billion in 2015. South Dakota estimates it loses about $50 million annually to e-commerce."The problem with the physical-presence rule is that it was first conceived of in 1967, two years before the moon landing and decades before the first retail transaction occurred over the Internet," according to the brief.Some companies such as Amazon have decided to collect state sales taxes despite the precedent.South Dakota legislators passed a law Continue Reading