Even though there are no novel principles of law discussed, I can’t resist the title of this decision, Richard A. Nixon, 2011 T.C. Mem.249, filed 10/25/11. Of course, this isn’t the Richard Nixon (to quote the immortal words of Surgeon Commander Leonard McCoy to Starship Captain James T. Kirk, “He’s dead, Jim”).
This Richard Nixon is Poor Richard, just a hard-working Dad, who’s entitled to some of the tax breaks for supporting his two kids by his now-divorced spouse, Lowdown Leslie, by virtue of a parenting plan and order of child support entered in Superior Court in Clark County, Washington State.
Unfortunately, though Poor Richard signed a Form 8832, Lowdown Leslie refused to sign, and grabbed for herself the exemptions and credits Poor Richard was supposed to get per plan and order, even though Poor Richard dutifully paid all that the plan and order required. IRS assessed tax by disallowing Poor Richard’s dependency exemptions and child credits.
Poor Richard can’t prove he provided half the children’s support. They lived more than half the year with Lowdown Leslie, and the Form 8832 that Lowdown Leslie refused to sign isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Besides, the kids were the qualifying children of Lowdown Leslie, under the strict terms of Section 152(d)(1).
Although Poor Richard attached to his return letters concerning the plan and order and Lowdown Leslie’s disreputable tactics, they don’t satisfy the Section 152(e) reasonable equivalency to a Form 8832 test, because Lowdown Leslie didn’t sign them.
So Poor Richard loses.
Judge Vasquez tosses in the boilerplate “tough turkey” language we often see in these cases (see my blogpost “Supported Child, Unsupported Exemption” , 7/11/11): “We are not unsympathetic to petitioner’s position. We also realize that the statutory requirements may seem to work harsh results on taxpayers, such as petitioner, who are current in their child support obligations and who are entitled to claim the dependency exemption deductions or child tax credits under the terms of a child support order. However, we are bound by the statute as written and the accompanying regulations when consistent therewith. Michaels v. Commissioner, 87 T.C. 1412, 1417 (1986); Brissett v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2003-310.” 2011 T.C. Mem. 249, at p. 7.
Maybe Poor Richard would feel Judge Vasquez’s sympathy more if the Judge didn’t use the same boilerplate phraseology as appears in all these cases. Anyway, sympathy or no, IRS and Lowdown Leslie still have Dick Nixon to kick around.