TIMOTHY M. MYERS Requester
DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION Respondent
to S.C. Reporter 7/5/19
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
JEFFERY W. CLARK SPECIAL MASTER
On June 15, 2018, requester Timothy Myers made a public
records request to respondent Ohio Department of Taxation
I am requesting an opportunity to inspect or obtain copies of
any tax filings or records for the years 2012 through 2017
for the following LLCs that constitute the Columbus Crew S.C.
soccer team (with entity numbers):
1001854- CREW SOCCER STADIUM LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
921353- TEAM COLUMBUS SOCCER, LTD.
2372465- PRECOURT SPORTS VENTURES LLC
921435- MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER, LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
at 3-4.) The DOT responded that release of these records is
prohibited by R.C. 5751.12. (Id. at 2.) On August
16, 2018, Myers filed a complaint under R.C. 2743.75 alleging
denial of access to public records in violation of R.C.
149.43(B). Following unsuccessful mediation, the DOT filed a
response to the complaint on November 13, 2018. On December
7, 2018, the DOT filed a supplemental response. On December
21, 2018, the special master granted the motion of Precourt
Sports Ventures, LLC, Team Columbus Soccer, L.L.C., and Crew
Soccer Stadium Limited Liability Company to intervene
pursuant to Civ.R. 24. Intervenors filed their brief on
January 4, 2019. On February 13, 2019, Myers filed a reply to
the pleadings of the DOT and Intervenors. On March 18, 2019,
Intervenors filed a sur-reply. The DOT has filed an
unredacted copy of the requested records under seal.
Filed Under Seal
The records filed under seal fall into four categories: 1)
tax withholding records (Bates No. 1-211, 280-355, 424-534),
2) pass-through entity tax records (Bates No. 356-423), 3)
commercial activity tax records (Bates No. 212-239, 535-559),
and 4) sales tax records (Bates No. 240-279). The tax
withholding records consist of tax returns showing the amount
of state income taxes and school district taxes paid by Crew
Soccer Stadium LLC, Major League Soccer, and Team Columbus
Soccer on behalf of their employees, as well as data
printouts derived from those returns. The pass-through entity
records consist of pass-through entity withholding tax
returns and related filings by Precourt Sports Ventures which
show the amount of pass-through entity taxes withheld for
investors in Precourt Sports Ventures. The commercial
activity tax records consist of the quarterly commercial
activity tax returns filed by Crew Soccer Stadium and Team
Columbus Soccer. The sales tax records consist of state sales
tax returns filed by Crew Soccer Stadium.
In a claim to enforce Ohio's Public Records Act (PRA),
the burden is on the requester to prove an alleged violation.
Although the PRA is accorded liberal construction in favor of
access to public records, "the relator must still
establish entitlement to the requested extraordinary relief
by clear and convincing evidence."
(Citation omitted.) State ex rel. Caster v.
Columbus,151 Ohio St.3d 425, 428, 2016- Ohio-8394, 89
N.E.3d 598, ¶ 15. Claims pursuant to R.C. 2743.75 must
likewise be established by clear and convincing evidence.
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