Between the years of 1993 and 1997, whistle blowers brought forth ten cases accusing medical groups of conspiring to defraud Medicare. Normally, a case like this doesn’t grab my attention; however, as a Florida tax attorney, this medical case caught my eye. I was not interested in whether the claims were false, if the medical companies scammed Medicare, or what other potentially unprofessional practices the group engaged in. Rather, from a tax perspective, I was curious if the settlement payment was tax deductible.
Section 162, Internal Revenue Code (“I.R.C.”) allows a deduction for expenses of a business that are necessary and ordinary. Generally, a settlement claim paid by a business can be properly deducted on its federal tax return. See, Comm’r v. Pacific Mills, 207 F. 2d 177, 180 (1st Cir. 1953). However, under section 162(f), I.R.C., if an expense or payment is a fine or similar payment paid to the government, then the expense is not deductible. This makes sense in that the IRS does not want to grant tax incentives to companies for paying fines and the like. Thus, the question in this case is whether a settlement relating to Medicare fraud is a fine or similar payment.