UPDATE 1-Brazil's Ita+¦ faces $8 bln in back taxes for 2008 merger
SAO PAULO, Aug 16 (Reuters) - Brazilian tax authorities are demanding lender Itaú Unibanco Holding SA pay 18.7 billion reais ($7.98 billion) in back taxes related to the 2008 merger that made it Brazil's largest bank by market value.
Itaú is appealing the decision, received in June according to a Friday securities filing by the bank, and its lawyers see a "remote" risk of losing the appeal.
The bank's shares slid as much as 2.35 percent in midday trading on the Sao Paulo stock exchange, flirting with their worst daily loss in six weeks.
Brazil's Federal Revenue Service, which has gained global renown for its tough tactics, intensified pressure recently on a range of companies it accuses of tax evasion - a crackdown that coincided with increased concerns about the fiscal deficit.
Tax authorities are challenging the corporate structure that resulted from the merger of Itaú and Unibanco's operation five years ago, demanding an additional 11.8 billion reais in income taxes and 6.9 billion reais in taxes on corporate profits.
"Itaú Unibanco reiterates that the operations realized in 2008 were legitimate, approved by the administrations of the companies involved and their shareholders and later sanctioned by the relevant authorities," the bank wrote.