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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Corrections Corporation of America announced Monday it will pay $54 million to settle a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over its 1997 taxes.

CCA said it would pay ``substantially all'' of the $54 million settlement, covering federal and state taxes and interest, in the fourth quarter using cash on hand. The company had a consolidated cash balance of $101.8 million on Sept. 30.

``We are pleased with the final resolution of this matter with the IRS,'' said Irving E. Lingo, Jr., CCA's executive vice president and chief financial officer. ``We believe that the settlement reached with the IRS is in the best interests of the company and its stockholders as it removes a significant contingency, allowing management to continue to focus its attention on the growth of the business.''

CCA, which had previously announced the IRS audit, is continuing to appeal the tax agency's findings from audits of the company's 1998 and 2000 tax returns. Company spokeswoman Karin Demler said the dispute centered on ``write-offs and other things the IRS doesn't agree with,'' but could not provide more specifics.

Lingo said Monday's settlement could allow CCA to use its anticipated 2002 tax losses to claim a refund of a portion of the taxes to be paid.

CCA is the largest owner and operator of private prisons in the United States. It owns 40 facilities and operates 20 more, with a total capacity of 59,000 inmates, in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Shares of CCA closed Monday at $15.47, down 3 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.

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On the Net:

CCA: http://www.correctionscorp.com