In Uncategorized on 05/22/2012 at 16:08

And so the Biblical encomium of Genesis 32:28 is bestowed upon Michael J. Dale, in the eponymous T. C. Mem. 2012-146, filed 5/22/12. Except for $71, that is; he loses that one.

Mike said he was an innocent spouse. His loved-once, Big Ellen, invested in a cattle shelter run by one Hoyt. IRS blew up the shelter, and SNODs rained on the heads of the non-cowboys caught in Hoyt’s stampede. IRS said Mike was no innocent, but on the eve of trial IRS conceded Mike satisfied Section 6015(c)’s version of blamelessness.

Mike wanted a Section 7430 prevailing-party expense allowance of $4998.50; IRS agreed to $4927.50, but objects to $71 for “secretarial and clerical work performed by a secretary ($37.50), an assistant ($23) and a ‘staff’ member ($10.50).” 2012 T. C. Mem. 146, at p. 3.

So Mike goes to Tax Court for the $71. You gotta like a guy that fights as a matter of principle. And his counsel: one has to ask if she was getting paid.

But Mike loses. Section 7430(c)(1) reimburses for lawyer’s work, and the cost of secretarial and like services (lawyer’s overhead) is usually built into the lawyer’s fee.

Judge Kroupa: “Here, the titles of the persons who performed the services are immaterial. Rather, the nature of the services performed is relevant. The fees at issue relate to routine administrative tasks (e.g., editing or scheduling) and not to the performance of legal services (e.g., drafting legal documents). Petitioner did not demonstrate that the fees at issue were for work akin to that of an attorney. Accordingly, petitioner is not entitled to recover the fees at issue.” 2012 T.C. Mem. 146, at pp. 4-5.

But fighting for $71 definitely puts Mike in the premier litigants’ division.

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