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New arena at Will Rogers takes shape


The proposed Will Rogers Memorial Center arena continues to take shape as voters head for a Nov. 4 election to decide whether to approve new taxes to help pay for the $450 million facility.

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Cooking Class: Fort Worth chef brings home the gold

Toques off to Timothy Prefontaine. The executive chef at the iconic Fort Worth Club is currently the best in the nation, according to the American Culinary Federation. Prefontaine earned the title of 2014 U.S.A.’s Chef of the

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Fort Worth-based Woodmont plans $80M Hard Rock Hotel retail center

Woodmont Outlets of Fort Worth, an affiliate of The Woodmont Co., has partnered with Cherokee Nation Businesses for a proposed upscale retail development at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

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Fort Worth firm 'simplifies' advertising

Reaching customers requires more than price slashing and flashy ads. In today’s competitive marketplace, machines – not men and women – are essential to tapping new markets and

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Trinity Valley School leader to leave in May 2015

Gary Krahn, head of school for the past eight years at Trinity Valley School in Fort Worth, will leave his position in May 2015 when he and his wife Paula will move

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Agency suing American Airlines over tax incentives

DON BABWIN, Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — The agency that oversees public transportation in Chicago is suing Fort Worth-based American Airlines for falsely claiming to buy "vast amounts of jet fuel" from a small office in a rural community to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes in the nation's third-largest city, where the actual work is done.

The lawsuit comes a year after the same agency — the Regional Transportation Agency — accused United Airlines in a lawsuit of doing the same thing in the same small town. The RTA filed its lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court late Tuesday afternoon.

The RTA oversees the Chicago Transportation Authority, the region's Metra commuter line and the Pace suburban bus service. The agency has been making the allegations against American for more than a year but said it was waiting for the airline to emergency from bankruptcy protection, something that happened in December.

As it said when it sued United, the RTA said American or its subsidiary, American Aviation Supply, could not possibly conduct the business of buying fuel for jets at one of the largest airports in the world, Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, out of an office that's less than a 1,000 square feet where one or two employees work. The office is in City Hall in the town of Sycamore.

"We're saying whatever work is being done there is a sham," Jordan Matyas, the RTA's chief of staff, said ahead of the lawsuit be filed.

Matyas said that while the lawsuit also names American Aviation Supply, American Airlines is responsible for what is being done — or not being done — in Sycamore.

"This is clearly American Airlines doing the deal," he said. "They set up a subsidiary in order to funnel the money and not pay the appropriate taxes."

RTA alleges that under the arrangement between Sycamore and American, the city reimburses the airline for a portion of the sales tax it pays on the fuel. According to the RTA, the Sycamore office cost the Chicago, Cook County and RTA a total of more than $23 million last year.

Both American Airlines and Sycamore's city manager declined to comment. But last year, American spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said: "What American is doing is permitted under Illinois law."

The lawsuit is part of a barrage of lawsuits filed by the RTA, the city of Chicago and Cook County against communities outside Cook County that allege those communities' tax incentive programs are costing other government agencies millions of dollars.

Matyas said he believes an Illinois Supreme Court ruling in November strengthens the RTA's lawsuits. The court found in a case involving a fuel oil retailer that sales taxes must be paid by companies in communities where most of their business is conducted.

"The major point was these sham offices do not work and you've got to pay taxes ... where you are actually conducting the business of selling."

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin agreed, saying he hopes the ruling will persuade companies that have such offices to reconsider because, while the court decided that the companies should not be forced to pay Cook County for taxes they avoided before the ruling, it was clear in warning them that they will be on the hook for those taxes from now on.

"I think they're going to be nervous, absolutely because the court was saying ... don't do it again," he said.

 

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