Allan Sloan found something “Buried in the tax footnotes” of the financial results Tribune Co. released Monday: The IRS and other authorities are seeking nearly $300 million in taxes and penalties from former owner Sam Zell’s 2008 deal to sell Newsday to Cablevision.
And the company’s potential troubles don’t end there. Tribune sold its interest in the Chicago Cubs using a similar deal structure, and it’s being audited. “Apply the same penalties as the IRS is seeking in the Newsday deal, and the total exposure is about $300 million,” Sloan writes.
“I used to consider Zell and his tax avoidance schemes sort of amusing,” Sloan writes. “But the amusement — and congeniality — are both long gone.” The company, he says, doesn’t need “a big, fat tax bill from the past.”
Earlier this year the Chicago Tribune published a fascinating series about Zell’s bumpy ride at Tribune. The company is considering a sale of its newspapers.
Previously: Tribune files post-bankruptcy financial results