Not all tax cases that I find interesting involve the Internal Revenue Code. I came across an fascinating case out of Strasboug, France, handed down by The European Court of Human Rights.
The court ruled in Eko-Elda AVEE v. Greece that the refusal to pay interest when refunding overpaid taxes violated property rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights. According to published reports, the unanimous decision found that the Greek government violated the rights of a gasoline firm under the convention, which guarantees "peaceful enjoyment" of possessions. The firm had to wait more than five years for reimbursement of the equivalent of 362,105 euros in wrongly paid income tax. The judges are quoted as saying, "The authorities' refusal to pay default interest for such a long period had upset the fair balance to be maintained between the general interest and individual interests." As a result, the Greek government was ordered to pay the firm 120,000 euros for pecuniary damage and 4,000 euros for costs and expenses, which amounted to a payment of just under $150,000 in U.S. dollars.
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