May 6th, 2003
You probably remember hearing about various large American companies going bankrupt in the last year or so because they'd been lying about how much profit they were making. The names Enron and WorldCom probably ring a bell, yes? You might think that the management of these companies would be feeling a little contrite now they've been rumbled, but you'd be wrong. Both the companies named above are in the process of asking for tax refunds from the US government, on the grounds that the amount of tax they paid was based on inflated profits reports.
That's the taxes which were calculated on the basis of the misleading profits reports the companies filed themselves, remember.
Before anyone points it out, I'll freely admit that this is strictly speaking nothing to do with me. It's not my government that's being asked to give money back to companies which lied about their profits, and I don't own any shares in WorldCom or Enron. It's even possible that this sort of manoeuvre is entirely routine in the business world, and it's only the size of the corporations involved and the spectacularly newsworthy way they went belly-up that even makes these latest developments worth reporting. It's just that it's such a mind-boggling notion that a company should claim refunds of taxes which were only payable in the first place because the company's managers told a pack of lies that I thought it worthy of a mention. The word "chutzpah" seems wholly appropriate.
[Via Rebecca's Pocket]