NetJets, a private jet-sharing company owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, was sued for USD$366.3 million by the US government to recover unpaid taxes, four months after it sued the government for nearly twice as much.
Four NetJets units have "failed, neglected or refused" to pay excise taxes and related penalties between 2003 and 2009, according to the countersuit filed Thursday with the US District Court in Columbus, Ohio, where NetJets is based.
NetJets Aviation owes USD$302.1 million, NetJets International owes USD$53 million, Executive Jet Management owes USD$10 million and NetJets Large Aircraft owes USD$1.19 million, according to the countersuit.
Colleen Nissl, NetJets' general counsel, said the company does not comment on pending litigation.
On November 14, NetJets had sued to recoup USD$642.7 million in taxes and penalties, accusing the Internal Revenue Service of having mistakenly imposed a "ticket tax" meant to apply only to passengers who buy seats on commercial or charter aircrafts.
NetJets said that as a manager of private aircraft, it was not required to pay the tax because its services were not "taxable transportation." It also said the IRS put it at a disadvantage to rivals that did not have to pay the tax.
Last year, NetJets posted a USD$227 million pretax profit, continuing a turnaround after prior management had racked up USD$1.9 billion of debt and frequently posted quarterly losses.
"A few years ago NetJets was my number one worry: Its costs were far out of line with revenues, and cash was haemorrhaging," Buffett, the world's third-richest person according to Forbes magazine, wrote last month in his annual letter to Berkshire shareholders. "These problems are behind us."
Gravity always wins!