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City of Kansas City v. Cosic

Court of Appeals of Missouri, Western District, Fourth Division

February 27, 2018

CITY OF KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, Appellant,
v.
BEGO COSIC, Respondent.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Platte County, Missouri The Honorable Dennis C. Eckold, Judge

          Before Mark D. Pfeiffer, Chief Judge, Presiding, Victor C. Howard, Judge and Cynthia L. Martin, Judge

          Cynthia L. Martin, Judge

         The City of Kansas City, Missouri ("City") appeals from the trial court's judgment against Bego Cosic ("Cosic") awarding the City unpaid earnings taxes and other costs, but failing to award prejudgment interest. The City argues that the trial court erred in not awarding prejudgment interest because a city ordinance mandates the imposition of interest. We dismiss the City's appeal.

         Factual and Procedural Background

         In October 2016, the City filed a petition against Cosic seeking to recover delinquent earnings taxes for the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 tax years. The City requested penalties, attorneys' fees, and other costs. Relevant to this appeal, the City also sought $480.98 in prejudgment interest pursuant to a municipal ordinance: section 68-394(a) of the Kansas City Code of Ordinances.

         The trial court held a bench trial on the City's petition on May 5, 2017. The City introduced twelve exhibits at trial, three of which were purported to be controlling ordinances applicable to the monies sought. Exhibit 3 was described in the trial transcript as "Kansas City Ordinance Article 4 regarding Earnings and Profits Tax."

         At trial, the City presented testimony from Aaron Dispenza ("Dispenza"), a senior analyst with the City's Revenue Division. Dispenza testified that Cosic's federal tax returns for years 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 demonstrated Cosic earned wages subject to the City's earnings tax. Dispenza stated that Cosic had not paid earnings taxes on these wages. The amount owed at the time of trial was reportedly $2, 823.76, which included interest. Dispenza did not specify the amount of interest owed, but explained that interest is assessed at a rate of one percent per month (i.e., twelve percent per annum), beginning from the unpaid tax's due date. Dispenza did not refer to section 68-394(a) or to Exhibit 3 when discussing the interest assessment.

         The trial court entered judgment on May 5, 2017. The trial court found in favor of the City, awarding $1, 785.46 for the principal amount of taxes owed, attorneys' fees, and process server fees. The trial court did not award the City any penalties or prejudgment interest.

         The City filed a motion to reconsider the judgment, requesting that the trial court award penalties and prejudgment interest pursuant to section 68-394(a) of the City's ordinances. The trial court denied the City's motion to reconsider.

         This timely appeal follows.

         Standard of Review

         "As in any court-tried case, the judgment will be affirmed unless there is no substantial evidence to support it, it is against the weight of the evidence, or it erroneously declares or applies the law." City of Kansas City v. Garnett, 482 S.W.3d 829, 831 (Mo. App. W.D. 2016). "It is the appellant's burden on appeal to demonstrate that the trial court's judgment was incorrect on any basis supported by the record and the applicable law." State ex rel. Nixon v. Koonce, ...


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