Archive for Saturday, May 31, 2014

Kansas businessman still fighting $42M tax bill

May 31, 2014


— A prominent southeast Kansas businessman and his wife are locked in a dispute over a $42 million tax bill and questions over which state they resided nearly a decade ago.

For the past two years, Gene Bicknell has fought the tax bill that was levied based on where he lived at the time of the 2006 sale of National Pizza Company — the nation's largest Pizza Hut franchise holder. He argues he was a Florida resident, but the Kansas Department of Revenue, citing its definition of domicile imposed around the time of the sale, disagrees.

Bicknell, formerly of Pittsburg, lost a ruling from the Kansas Court of Appeals in March, but a petition for review by the Kansas Supreme Court is pending.

Tim Connealy, CFO for the Bicknell Family Holding Company, said Friday the dispute has frustrated Gene and Rita Bicknell after a lifetime of building companies and creating jobs "to better the state."

"The state was solely concerned with making sure it could to get a cut of Mr. Bicknell's life work," Connealy said. "The state's actions are nothing short of a slap in the face to Mr. Bicknell and all of the economic and philanthropic benefit that he brought to his former state."

Department of Revenue spokeswoman Jeannine Koranda declined to comment on the case, citing agency policy regarding pending litigation.

Bicknell spent a career building National Pizza Company, which had 790 stores at the time of the sale to Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity; the terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Connealy said Bicknell moved to Florida before the sale, and owned a home and registered to vote there, while his wife lived in Kansas. Bicknell only spent a few months of the year in Kansas to visit family and friends, Connealy said.

The Kansas Department of Revenue audited the Bicknells' taxes from 2005 through 2008 and determined the primary residence was in Kansas, not Florida as claimed on tax forms. He paid the $42 million tax bill in 2013 after filing a protest with the state Court of Tax Appeals. While the protest was pending in 2012, he also filed suit in contesting the rule as unconstitutionally vague.

A Shawnee County District Court judge ruled in March 2013 that the Bicknells hadn't exhausted their legal remedies with the Court of Tax Appeals to challenge the rule. That opinion has been upheld by the Kansas Court of Appeals and now the Bicknells are awaiting a decision by the Kansas Supreme Court whether to hear the case.

Bicknell grew up in southeast Kansas and spent his career building companies from plastics to restaurant franchises. Bicknell was also active in Republican politics, running in 1986 and 1994 for the GOP nomination for governor.

He's also dabbled in movies, television producing and music in his career, and in recent years has developed entertainment properties in Branson, Missouri.


Randall Uhrich 3 years, 9 months ago

Corporate Republicans sure do whine when they have to pay their taxes. I wonder how much he avoided before the sale. He was a Kansas resident while he built the worth of the company, then moved to Florida solely to avoid taxes when he sold it. Hypocrite!

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

Pay up Bicknell. You owe the money. Did you relocate yourself to avoid paying? You are a crook.

And you are not anymore special than anyone else. Mr Bicknell you know when a person makes money there is a tax involved this is not new. If you Mr Bicknell did not want to pay more you should have a taken a $7.00 per hour job.

Amy Varoli Elliott 3 years, 9 months ago

It states that he did pay the bill he is just contesting the legality of it

Bob Forer 3 years, 9 months ago

Bicknell sold his company in 2006. I think we can assume the 42 Million dollar tax bill is for the tax on the sale of the company. In 2006 the highest marginal tax rate in Kansas was 6.45 per cent. That means that he had taxable income of approximately 650 million dollars. Of course, he netted more than that on the sale of his company. Probably close to a billion dollars. The 650 million only represents the profit on the sale.

Poor little greedy rich boy.

Arnie Bunkers 3 years, 9 months ago

What does it matter if he made $650 mil or $65? He didn't live here by his choice. Smart move on his part. I don't see anyone moving into a high tax state right before a big sale. People saying stuff like " poor little rich boy" sound pretty stupid. Some of us defended this country so "poor little rich boys" ( who btw made a lot of others rich) could have such a choice

Bob Forer 3 years, 9 months ago

What does it matter if he made $650 mil or $65? Because the tax is based on a percentage of earnings. People saying stuff like "what does it matter if he made $650 mil or $65?" sound pretty stupid.

Arnie Bunkers 3 years, 9 months ago

actually sounds like you dont get it Bobby. Of course there is a different tax on different amounts made. But the question was whether he owed any tax since he did not live here at the time of the sale.

3 years, 9 months ago

So if he wins, does the tax go to Florida? Maybe he was on the road to Florida and therefore really hadn't established residency there yet, but wasn't a resident in Kansas either, so where would the money go then...but of course he has got friends in high places here in Kansas so in five years when this matter is completely forgotten he will donate it to the Kansas Educational system and the Florida Educational system like a good boy.

Joe Blackford II 3 years, 9 months ago

"Gene Bicknell is an actor and producer, known for Redemption of the Ghost (2002), Gypsy Angels (1980) and The Warriors (1979)."

Vanna White in Gypsy Angels (1982) trailer

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