Court rules NFL's Rams have to pay Missouri sales tax

By Sam Knef | Aug 10, 2017

JEFFERSON CITY — Football fans in the St. Louis area may have something to cheer about: the long arm of Missouri law is not letting the former St. Louis Rams, renamed and relocated to Los Angeles, get a refund on state sales taxes.

In a ruling issued Aug. 1, the Missouri Supreme Court found that the state's Administrative Hearing Commission was wrong in finding that the Rams did not have to pay sales tax on the "entertainment license tax” (ELT) collected from ticket buyers as the amount paid for admission from Feb. 1, 2007, through Jan. 31, 2010, and Feb. 1, 2010, through Jan. 31, 2013. 

The high court reversed and remanded the case the Rams organization brought against the state's director of revenue.

The Rams organization snubbed St. Louis and the many attempts city and regional leaders made to keep them, and moved the team back to Los Angeles for the 2016 season.

According to the high court ruling, the Rams chose to pass their obligation to pay the ELT through to ticket purchasers who sought admission to football games played in the city.

"When the Rams collected and remitted the ELT to the city, the city issued the Rams a gross receipt license to operate their business in the city," the ruling states.

The ruling states that from Feb. 1, 2007, through Jan. 31, 2013, the Rams collected and sent the ELT to the city. They included the ELT they collected as part of their gross receipts in sales tax returns filed for the period of Feb. 1, 2007, through Jan. 31, 2010.

In April 2011, the organization applied for a sales tax refund to equal the ELT it included in gross receipts, arguing that the ELT was included "erroneously," the ruling states.

The Revenue Department denied the application, and in December 2011, the Rams sought a refund and evidentiary hearing before the commission.

Following proceedings at the commission, its director ordered a refund to the Rams for the ELT "erroneously included in the February 2007 through January 2010 periods," the ruling states. The commission also found the Rams were not liable for sales tax based on the ELT collected and remitted from February 2010 through January 2013.

In its opinion, the Supreme Court held that the sales at retail occurred between the Rams and ticket purchasers who paid a fixed admission price to view football games.

"The Rams received a fixed dollar amount from ticket purchasers seeking admission to football games, which included the ELT," the opinion states. "Accordingly, the total amount the Rams received from the ticket purchasers is subject to sales tax and does not constitute a tax upon a tax."

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