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Symantec Sticks It to the Man

8:30 AM -- If, like me, you have been stressed about filing your taxes recently, then spare a thought for poor Symantec, which has been stung with a billion-dollar tax bill.

Yes, you read that correctly: ONE BILLION DOLLARS. According to documents filed with the SEC yesterday, the software giant is facing a $900 million tax liability (excluding penalties and interest) from the IRS related to its acquisition of Veritas last year. (See Symantec, Veritas Complete Merger and M&A Worries Stall Symantec Shares.)

Specifically, the IRS claim focuses on a technology license agreement between Veritas and one of its foreign subsidiaries. But proving that the spirit of the 60s is alive and well, Symantec says that it is ready to take on The Man.: "The Company does not agree with the IRS position and intends to file a timely petition to the Tax Court to protest the assessment," was the message in its SEC filing. Good luck with that.

Veritas, of course, was no stranger to financial snafus prior to the $13.5 billion merger, missing its 10K deadline last year and falling afoul of Nasdaq compliance requirements. (See Veritas Misses 10K Deadline, Nasdaq Gives Veritas E’, and Veritas to Trade Under New Ticker.) It's going to be interesting, then, to see how Symantec fights its way out of this one.

There must be some real fear in the Symantec boardroom that one of the most expensive software deals of recent times is going to become even pricier. If Symantec is unsuccessful in its attempt to stick it to the IRS (in lieu of being stuck itself), then the vendor will have to work out where it is going to get $1 billion. Not even Symantec CEO John Thompson has that sort of loose change hiding in the corners of his couch.

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