In a hurly-burly time, when the whole world seems to have gone mad, with the flames of hatred fanned by malign influences roiling the Internet and our streets, those desperately grasping for hope might remember those principles, traditions and values that truly unite all Americans.
One of them is that everyone loves to sue the feds.
Win or lose, women’s interest and lifestyle publisher Meredith Corp. gets to take a victory lap just for sheer gumption. It is suing the Internal Revenue Service for over collection of income taxes — to the tune of $12 million. The case hinges on what Meredith argues is the IRS’ mistaken refusal to grant an income-tax deduction, based on the feds’ misunderstanding of one of the company’s printing business arrangements.
According to the lawsuit, filed in federal court in Meredith’s hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, the IRS disallowed a deduction on income taxes claimed by Meredith from 2006-2012, due to the legal status of Meredith’s publications when they were under a printing contract.
OK, so it’s not exactly gripping, whatever it is. While the details may be opaque, most companies don’t work up the courage to sue the IRS unless they’re pretty sure their legal ducks are in a row, so presumably Meredith’s lawyers have reason to feel confident.
It takes some serious legal firepower to bring the mighty IRS to book, but the effort does pay off — at least occasionally. In June, a court ruled in favor of hundreds of thousands of tax preparers in a class-action suit against the IRS over the latter’s charging illegal registration fees. The IRS was found at fault and ordered to pay $150 million in restitution.
The federal tax agency was also sued by conservative groups for its alleged political monitoring, undue scrutiny and discrimination against Tea Party-linked groups seeking tax-exempt status beginning in 2010.
In October, the IRS issued an apology for some of its employees' behavior as part of a legal settlement for one of the cases brought by Tea Party members alleging discriminatory treatment for political ends.