Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gov. Rick Scott's former company HCA files suit in tax dispute with state

TALLAHASSEE — 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 was 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.

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."

Gov. Rick Scott's former company HCA files suit in tax dispute with state 05/14/11 [Last modified: Saturday, May 14, 2011 8:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. University student accused of making bomb threat on Snapchat


    DELAND — A Florida university student is accused of making threats on Snapchat to "bomb" or "gas" the campus.

    Stetson University freshman Griffin Powell, 18, is accused of making threats on Snapchat to "bomb" or "gas" the campus in DeLand.

  2. Tiki Barber will join his brother, Ronde, on Fox broadcast for Bucs-Giants


    FOX announced Monday night that former Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber will have a familiar face joining him as a guest analyst for the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants game in Tampa: his twin brother Tiki, who will join …

    Tiki Barber, right, will join his brother, Ronde, left, as a guest analyst on the Oct. 1 Bucs-Giants broadcast on FOX. [Times files (2006)]
  3. Cannons will fire again when Bucs return to Raymond James Stadium


    As good as the Bucs looked in their season-opening 29-7 win against the Bears on Sunday, fans couldn't help but notice that the success didn't sound the same at Raymond James Stadium.

     Ron Gutschmidt is perched on top of the Buccaneer pirate ship ready to activate the ship's cannons with the press of a button after a Buccaneer touchdown. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
  4. Rick and Tom podcast: How should Joe Maddon be remembered tonight?

    The Heater

    Rick Stroud and Tom Jones talk about Joe Maddon's return to Tropicana Field for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014 in the latest edition of our Rick and Tom podcast. They discuss the mixed emotions …

    Joe Maddon returns to Tropicana Field tonight for the first time since he left the Rays in 2014. [Getty Images]
  5. Watch live: President Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly


    UNITED NATIONS — U.S. President Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron are expected to take the spotlight at the annual gathering of world leaders at the United Nations — but it's the tough global challenges from the nuclear threat in North Korea and the plight of Myanmar's minority Muslims to the …

    President Donald Trump shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron during a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, in New York. [Associated Press]