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City of Boonville v. Tracfone Wireless, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Central Division

November 25, 2014

CITY OF BOONVILLE and CITY OF SPRINGFIELD, Plaintiffs,
v.
TRACFONE WIRELESS, INC., Defendant.

ORDER

NANETTE K. LAUGHREY, District Judge.

Defendant Tracfone Wireless, Inc. moves to remand its suit against Springfield and Booneville [Doc. 14], and to dismiss Plaintiffs City of Boonville and City of Springfield's suit against Tracfone. [Doc. 9]. The Court grants both motions.[1]

I. Background

By ordinance, Section 70-45, the City of Springfield imposes a local tax on suppliers of telephones and related services, specifically:

Every person engaged in the business of supplying telephones and telecommunications and telephonic services, and telecommunications services, within the city shall pay as a license tax a sum equal to six percent of the gross receipts from such business.

The City of Boonville has a similar ordinance, Section 10-99:

Every person engage in the business of providing telephone service for compensation in the city shall pay to the city as a license tax a sum equal to five (5) percent of the gross receipts from such a business. Tracfone has not paid either city's tax, and neither city has assessed its tax against Tracfone.

On June 19, 2014, TracFone filed a declaratory judgment action against Springfield in the Circuit Court of Greene County, Missouri, styled Tracfone Wireless, Inc. v. City of Springfield, case no. 1431-CC00880, and against Boonville in the Circuit Court of Cooper County, Missouri, styled Tracfone Wireless, Inc. v. City of Boonville, case no. 14CO-CC00022. Tracfone alleged in both cases that it is not engaged in the business of supplying telephonic service, telecommunications service, or telephones in the respective cities. Tracfone asked the state courts to declare it is not required to remit the cities' respective taxes, nor is it subject to taxation under the cities' ordinances.

In the Greene County case, Springfield filed a motion to dismiss, which the court denied. On June 19, 2014, Springfield removed the Greene County case to federal court and it was eventually reassigned to this Court, as case no. 6:14-cv-03335-NKL.

On June 20, 2014, Springfield and Boonville filed their complaint against TracFone in this Court, case no. 2:14-cv-04157-NKL, seeking a declaration that Tracfone is required under their respective ordinances to remit the local taxes. Boonville additionally asks for a finding of Tracfone's tax liability, plus interest and penalties.

On September 16, 2014, in the removed case, no. 6:14-cv-03335-NKL, the Court denied without prejudice Tracfone's motion to remand to the Greene County Circuit Court, and granted Springfield's motion to consolidate.

No party has notified the Court to-date that the Cooper County Circuit Court case has been removed to federal court.

II. Discussion

A. Remand of the case filed by Tracfone ...


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