(AIG) American International Group Slams Fed with Tax Overpayment

Last week, American International Group Inc. (AIG) sued the US Federal Reserve regarding net overpaid taxes and interests in 1991 worth $30.2 million, according to the Associated Press reports. The case has been filed in Federal Claims Court of Washington.

AIG not only wants the tax overpayment amount back, but also demands interest that is accrued over the last 21 years. On the other hand, the company itself under-paid taxes for the years 1997, 1998 and 1999, which the government is yet to extract from AIG. Nevertheless, the company has already considered the amount of under-paid taxes. Thus, the net amount including the overpaid tax and interest, and deducting the under-payment, sums up to $30.2 million.

Moreover, the lawsuit remains pending with Internal Revenue Service (IRS) since 2007. However, since the law of limitations on such amounts run for a six-year period at a time, the company has accelerated its lawsuit proceedings, in an attempt to reach a final settlement before time runs out.

The lawsuit appears at a time when AIG is already in the process of paying back its bailout loan, which it took from the US government during the peak of the financial crisis in September 2008. Even the IRS, which is supposed to deliver a resolution to the case is a part of the US Treasury, which currently owns about 60% of AIG’s common stock. This has been reduced from about 92% in May last year, as AIG is making consistent efforts to repay the government bailout loan. As a result, the company does not want to turn down opportunities for more cash inflow.

Meanwhile, a steady de-leveraging of balance sheet and continued focus on core operations over past several quarters have been aiding AIG to maintain a modest cash position coupled with an improved capital flexibility and credit profile. While the outcome of the lawsuit remains uncertain, we believe the company has the potential to uphold a steady and competitive business profile in future, primarily against arch-rivals MetLife Inc. (MET) and Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU).

According to the Zacks Consensus Estimate, AIG’s earnings for the second quarter of 2012 are pegged at 62 cents, down about 14% from the year-ago quarter, given the interest rate and global economic volatility. Currently, AIG carries a Zacks Rank #2 implying a short-term Buy rating.

Read the full analyst report on “AIG”
Read the full analyst report on “MET”
Read the full analyst report on “PRU”
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