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Warren Buffett's Company NetJets Sued For Millions In Unpaid Taxes

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 03/27/2012 12:11 pm Updated: 03/27/2012 2:52 pm

Netjets Tax

You'd think Warren Buffett would jump at the chance to pay more taxes. Evidently not.

Buffett, the billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has for several months insisted that he and other affluent Americans should have a higher tax burden. Buffett's ideas have been well received among the millionaire community and the general population, and President Obama is likewise a fan. In fact, a proposed tax named in Buffett's honor is projected to raise $31 billion in additional rich-people dollars over the next decade if it passes.

But just because Buffett wants to pay a higher effective tax rate doesn't mean companies related to him are chomping at the bit.

According to The New York Times' DealBook, one of the companies within Buffett's Berkshire fiefdom -- an Ohio-based private aviation firm called NetJets -- is being sued by the federal government for what the government says is a whopping sum of unpaid taxes.

At issue is a maintenance tax for NetJets planes that the company says it shouldn't have to pay -- and the government says it should. (For a more detailed explanation, head over to DealBook.) The lawsuit reportedly seeks $366 million in taxes and penalties.

It's not clear to what extent, if any, Buffett himself is personally involved in the decision-making process at NetJets. The chairman and CEO of the company is Jordan Hansell, who assumed control of NetJets a little under a year ago.

This isn't the first time that people have asked questions about taxes owed by one of Buffett's corporate properties. Last August, shortly after Buffett jump-started a debate over taxing the affluent with a widely read opinion piece in The New York Times, it was reported that Berkshire Hathaway itself still had yet to pay several years' worth of back taxes. The company said in an annual report that it expected to "resolve" the situation within a year.

And as previously reported by The Huffington Post, NetJets itself has already spent $2.5 million on lobbyists in a successful effort to change tax law in such a way that will allow companies like NetJets to pay lower taxes.

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