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Symantec inherits $1bn tax bill from Veritas

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Symantec's purchase of Veritas could end up being much pricier than first imagined if the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has anything to say about it. The IRS has slapped Symantec with a $900m tax bill to cover allegedly insufficient payments made by Veritas in 2000 and 2001.

Symantec received word of the problem from the IRS on March 29 and revealed the matter today in a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The $900m covers additional taxes, plus interest and penalties calculated during an audit of Veritas' books. A separate and unrelated audit of Symantec turned up a $100m incremental tax liability for the years 2003 and 2004, the company said. Symantec disagrees with the IRS findings and plans to fight both penalties.

"The company strongly believes the IRS positions with regard to these matters are inconsistent with applicable tax laws and existing Treasury regulations, and that its previously reported income tax provision for the years in question is appropriate," the company said in the SEC filing.

A couple of historical points don't really go in Veritas' favor here.

For one, Veritas had to restate its financial results from 2000 - 2003 due to accounting errors turned up during an SEC investigation. And then, there was Veritas' former CFO Kenneth Lonchar who was canned in 2002 for lying on his resume.

Not the cleanest bill of health.

Thankfully, Veritas has long specialized in data backup and recovery, so Symantec will have all the documents needed to prove its case on hand. ®

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