More than a decade of litigation over back taxes owed by a Greene County bingo company appears to be resolved.
On Thursday, the Alabama Supreme Court overturned an earlier judgment in favor of Greenetrack and ordered the salon to repay $76 million in unpaid taxes.
“Every day, all across our great state, Alabama people are rising up, working hard to earn an honorable living, obey the law, and pay their taxes,” Attorney General Steve Marshall said in a press release announcing the court’s decision. “And then there are people like Greenetrack, who plot to make a dishonorable profit, break the law and evade their taxes. Such a sordid state of affairs is more than just unjust, it is abhorrent to the rule of law. And, under my supervision, this will not be tolerated.
The state high court ruled in favor of the Alabama attorney general’s office and found that Greenetrack’s operation “did not exempt it from taxes” and “did not comply with (the law of Alabama)”, according to the opinion of the court.
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His ruling granting judgment for the State of Alabama now allows the state to collect more than $76 million in unpaid taxes and interest.
Although a representative for Greenetrack did not return a message seeking comment, the company has argued since its first lawsuit in 2011 that state law does not allow the collection of sales taxes on gross receipts. electronic bingo machines.
They also argued that the track is not liable because the charities had the licenses to operate the machines and paid Greenetrack for its ownership, use of the machines and personnel.
While the 2003 law that established bingo in Greene County outlines an activity that bears little resemblance to the activity of Greenetrack, Greenetrack President and CEO Luther W. “Nat” Winn told several times that Greenetrack operates via contracts with non-profit and charitable groups, which it described as the operators of the bingo games while Greenetrack only serves as a host site.
The Alabama Department of Revenue disputed that explanation and sued, arguing that Greenetrack owed taxes on money from its casino-like business.
From 2004 to 2008, according to the state, Greenetrack reaped profits from what the state described as an illegal gambling business that employed a rotating roster of nonprofit organizations in an effort to evade laws and to Alabama taxes.
Greenetrack has entered into agreements with non-profit organizations to allow them, on paper, to “rent” and “operate” Greenetrack’s business. In return for their protection from paying taxes, the non-profit organizations received a tiny fraction of Greenetrack’s illegal gambling revenue as a bribe and Greenetrack kept the rest, tax-free, said the state.
For example, the Alabama Attorney General said that in 2007, nonprofits received 2.5% of the nearly $69 million Greenetrack made from its operations that year. .
Greenetrack, however, said it regularly redistributes to organizations it supports — at one point Winn said Greenetrack bingo provided an average of $4,850 a day to be shared among nonprofits — and had made significant contributions to the government and agencies that operate in Greene County.
In 2007, the same year the state said Greenetrack was shorting its charities, Greenetrack gave the Greene County Commission $100,000 as a “goodwill gesture.”
He has bought laptops for Greene County students in the past, and in 2021 announced the Greenetrack Scholarship, established within the Alabama A&M University Foundation with an initial contribution of $10,000 for Greene students. , Sumter, Hale, Perry, Bibb, Pickens, Choctaw, Marengo, Dallas, and Wilcox counties “so they can come back and help improve the quality of life in the area.”
Winn and other Greenetrack officials have called the lawsuits, which have included the state’s seizure of its bingo machines in years past, “political blackmail.”
“Today marks another sad chapter in a long history of partisan harassment of our operations,” Winn said following then-Attorney General Luther Strange’s seizure of bingo machines from Greenetrack and three more Greene County bingo operations in 2014. “Such targeting by the General Counsel is clearly a blatant political maneuver designed to undermine and damage our efforts to expand our operations to other states.
“While this is an inconvenience and an injustice, we are confident that fair-minded people will see this grossly unethical action for exactly what it is…political blackmail. Using the powers of police to pursue a partisan political agenda is an abuse of power.After years of persecution and discrimination, this has become an emotional issue for our supporters in Alabama.
Contact Jason Morton at email@example.com.