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Why Bank of America deal might not cost it $17B
Accounting obscurities mean US settlement with Bank of America might not cost bank $17 billion
By JEFF HORWITZ
Associated Press
2014-08-21 03:01 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Justice Department's $17 billion settlement with Bank of America almost certainly will not cost the company that much.

Inflated figures in mega-settlements negotiated with the government make for sensational headlines. But the true cost to companies is often obscured by potential tax deductions and opaque accounting techniques.

A person familiar with the settlement tells The Associated Press that Bank of America will pay roughly $10 billion in cash and provide aid valued by the government at $7 billion.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been announced.

It's a bit of a numbers game. Cash payments can be treated as tax-deductible business expenses. And consumer relief is a vague cost category that can include simply following business as usual.

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