Attorney-at-Law

HARD CASES

In Uncategorized on 10/18/2012 at 16:12

 Don’t Always Make Bad Law

Contrary to the old law school dictum dinned into my youthful ears on The Hill Far Above, hard cases sometimes don’t make bad law. Such is the story of William George West, Deceased, Docket No. 20428-11, filed 10/18/12.

There has been a real paucity of interesting decisions out of Tax Court the last few days, just unsubstantiated deductions and one egregious nonfiler-protester. Nothing here for the “man o’ independent mind”, who “looks an’ laughs at a’ that”, in the words of Scotland’s greatest.

So it’s off to the orders. And the late Bill and his widow (who, the Court notes, is not fluent in English) are the recipients of a heartwarmer from The Great Dissenter, a/k/a The Judge Who Writes Like a Human Being, His Honor Mark V. Holmes.

Starts off quite routinely, SFRs for non-filed returns for two tax years, followed with SNODs. Petition filed, but the signer was unauthorized.

Now for the hard facts: “Mr. West, however, had not prepared the returns because he was seriously ill and he died just about the time the Commissioner was sending him the notices of deficiency. His widow — who is not fluent in English — filed the petition, but had no legal authority to do so. On September 19, 2012, the Commissioner moved to dismiss the case for lack of jurisdiction.

“The Court would be concerned at merely dismissing a challenge to deficiencies if that would lead to an assessment without a practically meaningful opportunity to challenge them. It therefore spoke with the parties on October 17, 2012. The Commissioner’s lawyer explained that Mrs. West had been able to find a preparer who worked with her and IRS Appeals to submit the missing returns and that the much lower tax bill those returns showed had already been assessed. Dismissing this case, therefore, is just cleaning up the paperwork.” Order, p. 1.

Clean up the paperwork and do justice at the same time. That’s my kind of Judge, even if he doesn’t appreciate the partitive genitive.

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