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Multimillion-dollar Florida tax battle heads to court

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The current owners of two Kraft Foods companies are going to court over a disputed $25 million in Florida corporate income tax.

Intercontinental Brands LLC, which now owns Kraft Foods Global Brands, and Intercontinental Great Brands LLC, which owns Kraft Foods Holdings, on Tuesday sued the state Department of Revenue in Leon County Circuit Civil court.

The state claims the companies respectively owe $16.3 million for 2008-12 and $8.8 million for 2006-11 in back corporate tax, penalties and interest, according to court documents.

The revenue department says the companies owe because they had “intellectual property … licensees” who did business in Florida and paid them royalties.

But the firms themselves say they “had no offices, employees or operations located in Florida,” had no property, contracts or other agreements here, and generally “did not conduct any business” in the state.

They seek a judicial declaration that the tax owed is “invalid and unlawful.”

Specifically, they want the court to rule that “licensing the use of a trade name, trademark or patent to a business entity in Florida” shouldn’t make them liable for state tax.

The companies are represented by attorney William D. Townsend of the Dean Mead law firm in Tallahassee. Court dockets show the department has not yet been served, and state agencies generally do not comment on pending litigation.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at

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