What's in A Name?

A Supreme Court ruling on customer lists could cost the IRS billions

TO THE LIST OF WHATEVER OTHER REASONS ONE company would want to buy another with a fat customer list, add one more: a big tax break. In a decision that could cost Uncle Sam billions, the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to allow the purchaser to depreciate the value of the customer lists it acquires if it can show they have a limited useful life. The opinion affirmed the Newark Morning Ledger Co.'s right to depreciate 460,000 subscriptions (valued at $68 million) that were obtained through the purchase of a chain of Michigan newspapers; the Justices knocked down IRS interpretations...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!