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Gov. Rick Scott’s Ex HCA Suing Florida Over $757,000 in Unpaid Interest on Late Taxes

| May 15, 2011

One lawsuit at a time.

Hospital giant HCA is suing the Florida Department of Revenue in a tax dispute that stems from the turbulent era when Gov. Rick Scott ran the company.

The lawsuit, filed April 29 in Leon County Circuit Court, challenges $756,885 in interest payments that the state is seeking to collect on the company’s 1994 corporate-income taxes.

HCA, then known as Columbia/HCA, paid its Florida taxes in 1995 but later got audited by the Internal Revenue Service, according to court records. The audit forced HCA to pay an additional $843,173 in state taxes — but the payment was not made until 2008.

The Department of Revenue is trying to collect interest from the entire period, which HCA contends is illegal.

The court records do not make clear why HCA delayed paying the additional taxes until 2008. But Securities and Exchange Commission reports show the hospital company faced long-running IRS audits after a Medicare fraud scandal became public in 1997.
That scandal ultimately drove Scott out of his job as chief executive and led to $1.7 billion in fines against the company.

During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, Scott faced months of questions about his role in the Medicare fraud case. He denied being aware of fraud taking place, and he never faced criminal charges.

Scott and the three state Cabinet members oversee the operations of the Department of Revenue. A department spokeswoman did not return phone messages Friday.

In the lawsuit, Nashville-based HCA raises state and federal constitutional arguments against being forced to pay the interest.

The Legislature in 2002 approved a law that addressed cases in which federal audits lead to increased tax bills. That law allows the state to seek interest from the time the taxes were originally due.

But HCA argues the state couldn’t retroactively apply the law to the 1994 tax bills. The company raises constitutional due-process and equal-protection objections.

“Our 1994 federal income taxes were adjusted in 2008, which, as is often the case, required the payment of additional state tax,” HCA Spokesman Ed Fishbough said Friday. “We reported and paid these additional state taxes promptly, but the state assessed interest on the amount even though the Florida law applicable to 1994 does not provide for interest when federal adjustments are reported timely.”

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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6 Responses for “Gov. Rick Scott’s Ex HCA Suing Florida Over $757,000 in Unpaid Interest on Late Taxes”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Now we have the case of the fox = (Rick Scott) guarding the chicken coop= (Florida’s interest owed by HCA).

  2. Jojo says:

    I don’t call this guy a Governor – I call him a crook.. Scott denies fraud even took place while at the helm. This man and his family should never have been elected Gov of this State. This is going to come back and bite us, not him, in the ass. This family carries too much baggage and Scott has an axe to grind. The Gov is nothing but a conflict of interest. Only in Florida – an embarrassment to us all. Shame on us for electing a Gov who is going to nickel and dime us yet just reduced unemployment from the original 26 weeks to 23 weeks for Florida residents out -of -work. Didn’t he transfer ownership of his company to his wife who piss-tests drivers and now wants to test welfare recipients as well. Crooks!

  3. palmcoaster says:

    Add recall in the Florida Constitution…and then recall R, Scott.

  4. The Truth says:

    Let’s get to work – right Republicans?

  5. William says:

    When one elects a known criminal to public office, one must learn to lower one’s expectations.

    Looked at from a different perspective, bend over and grab your ankles. Just pretend you dropped the soap in the prison shower.

  6. rickg says:

    Rick Scott’s legacy will be his involvement or at best uninvolvement with Columbia/HCA. When will the citizens of Florida realize that they have elected a shady businessman as Governor? Oh that’s right they keep electing the same Rs each and every year that got us into the budget mess we’re in now so why would it be so surprising that the electorate puts this mendacious Governor?

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