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The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Anschutz, IRS lock horns again in latest joust
The Denver billionaire's legal battle with the government is at least his seventh since 1987. 
By Greg Griffin
Denver Post
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Philip Anschutz's ongoing dispute with the Internal Revenue Service isn't his first battle with the tax man.

Anschutz and his companies have sued the IRS at least seven times since 1987, according to U.S. Tax Court records.  Five of those cases were settled.

In 2006, Anschutz won the only case that went to trial.  The IRS claimed that Qwest improperly accounted for the cost of building its fiber-optic network from 1994 to 1996.  Qwest was a private company owned by Anschutz at that time.

Anschutz, a Denver-based multibillionaire industrialist and investor, is now fighting the government over taxes it says he improperly deferred on transactions involving his Union Pacific Corp. shares in 2000 and 2001.

The IRS claims Anschutz sold the shares and should have immediately paid taxes on the proceeds of $429.7 million;  Anschutz claims the transactions were not a sale and that taxes would be due only upon sale of the shares in 2009 and 2010.

Anschutz filed suit against the IRS after the agency demanded payment.  Filed in August 2007, the suit puts the disputed tax amount at $113.6 million.  The Wall Street Journal reported that the agency is seeking $143.6 million.

Trial is scheduled for June 23 in Washington.

In the Qwest case that Anschutz won, the IRS tried to prove that the company cut its tax bill by using an accounting method that reduced its reported income.

Forbes reported in 2003 that the disputed tax amount was $14.8 million.  Qwest said in a filing in 2005 that its liability and costs in the case could have been as high as $57 million.

Greg Griffin: 303-954-1241 or ggriffin@denverpost.com

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_9545105