Overturned again: Bicknell reacts to latest in 14-year Kansas court battle
PITTSBURG, Kan. – “I don’t know where I can go to find a fair court,” said Gene Bicknell today as he prepares to move forward in his fight with the State of Kansas.
This month, the 14-year, multi-million dollar battle took another turn. This time, in the State’s favor.
Today, March 31, 2020, Bicknell spoke at Immigrant Park at Pritchett Pavilion in Pittsburg, Kansas about the most recent decision and the case overall.
Bicknell, a Pittsburg native, once owned the largest number of Pizza Hut franchises in the nation. The dispute centers on where his official residence was when he sold his company, NPC International, in 2006.
Bicknell says his official residence was in Florida when the sale of NPC International was made. He says he moved there in 2003, so he owed no Kansas income taxes on the sale.
The State disagreed. Kansas claimed Bicknell was still a resident in the state and owed Kansas $42.5 million in back taxes, penalties and interest for income earned in 2005 and 2006.
Bicknell eventually paid the tax bill – which grew to $48 million. Bicknell sued.
Lawyers argued and laws changed.
Finally, in 2019, Senior Judge Richard Smith ruled that the pizza magnate had indeed lived in Florida during that period. He ordered the State of Kansas to return Bicknell’s income tax, interest and penalties, which now totals more than $63 million.
The State didn’t pay, and instead appealed the decision.
Bicknell added “The appellate court allowed them not to pay me that money until they had a chance to appeal, that was totally against the law, in my opinion, because once I won the case that freed me from having to have a bond up because now I’m the one that’s right.”
In February of this year, Bicknell filed a motion asking the Kansas Court of Appeals to order the state to pay him.
But the case took a different turn.
Earlier this month, a Kansas appeals court wiped out his win against the state Department of Revenue.
Today, March 31, 2021, Gene Bicknell shared his thoughts on the state’s actions and a decision on his future legal plans.
“This case should have never gotten to court.” He went over the case and the appointments of the latest judges. “Is there politics involved, I’ll let you be the judge,” says Bicknell.
Bicknell says the burden of proof was on him, instead of the State.
He tells KOAM he filed taxes as a non-resident in Kansas in 2004 and 2005 and the state accepted those returns, which he says, to him, means they’re agreeing he’s a resident of Florida. Bicknell says when he filed in 2006, the state objected.
He spoke about the money he initially paid that was never given back. He claims then Governor Sam Brownback had already spent it.
“Money’s a big factor, you know, a state that’s broke by a Governor that was taking businesses off the tax rolls and not replacing the revenue and they put Kansas in a financial strain,” said Bicknell.
During the press conference, Bicknell added, “This is gonna make a very good movie.”
He plans to continue fighting against the State of Kansas, but has his doubts. “Well, I don’t think I could live through it, frankly,”
Bicknell also told KOAM he loves the people of Kansas, but he doesn’t trust the courts of Kansas. “I just hope that there’s somebody that’s got some integrity in the court system that will look at this case on a real basis and rule in the right way.” Bicknell added “No one should ever have to go through what we’ve gone through.”
You can watch more this evening on KOAM News.
Court of Appeals
The Kansas Department of Revenue denied KOAM’s request for an interview, stating it does not comment on pending litigation.
The Kansas Judicial Branch states that the Court of Appeals speaks through its decisions.
The latest court decision can be found below, or click here to view it.