Area publications ordered to pay back taxes or shut down

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BRANSON MO NEWS: A Missouri court has ordered a company that owns several newspapers in Taney and Stone counties to become compliant with Missouri tax laws, or to stop making sales.

According to an order from Judge John Beger in Maries County Court, Tri-County Newspapers — which owns area newspapers like The Branson Independent, the Taney County Times, the Stone County Gazette, the Stone County Buyers Guide and the Taney County Buyers Guide — needs to pay $62,958.02 it owes in taxes and interest.

The Missouri Department of Revenue filed a petition against Tri-County Newspapers, and its owner and manager Kurt Lewis, Oct. 4 in Maries County, where the company owns the Belle Banner, the Bland Courier and the Maries County Gazette, also named in court documents.

Tri-County Newspapers is not affiliated with the Branson Tri-Lakes News, which is owned by Jimmy Lancaster and family of Branson and Gadsden, Alabama.

According to the Gasconade County Republican, Judge Beger has ordered Lewis to become compliant by Nov. 24. The newspaper reported that Lewis paid $10,000 toward the newspapers’ tax debt after a Nov. 3 court appearance, and $640 bond toward a sales tax license with the understanding the remainder of the debt, $52,958.02, would be paid by Nov. 24.

In its petition, the Department of Revenue claims Lewis and Tri-County Newspapers has been making sales without a valid sales tax license, as well as failing to withhold tax from its employees, since December 2005. That same month, according to the petition filed in court by the Revenue Department, Tri-County Newspapers’ sales tax license was revoked by the state.

The petition states that operating a business without a sales tax license is a Class A misdemeanor, making the company subject to fines that total up to $10,000.

The petition also states the company has failed to obtain a proper business license from the cities of Branson, Forsyth, …


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