Attorney-at-Law

Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

GETTING SHIFTY

In Uncategorized on 09/20/2013 at 15:52

The burden of proof, the US Attorney, and Mr  James Haber are all shifty, as Judge Halpern weaves his way through a designated hitter, AD Investment 2000 Fund LLC, Community Media, Inc., A Partner Other Than The Tax Matters Partner, Et Al., Docket No. 9177-08, filed 9/20/13.

Long-suffering readers of my blog will remember Mr Haber, the Fifth Amendment specialist, a featured player in my blogpost “Ironbridge Over Troubled Water”, 6/5/12. Once again Mr Haber faces the hot seat, and invokes his sacred Constitutional privilege.

This is another one of the FPAA-TEFRA cases arising out of Mr Haber’s tax mattering for several partnerships that might or might not be partnerships, and might or might not have engaged in transactions lacking economic substance, but throwing off heavy-duty deductions. Howbeit, “Petitioners represent, and respondent does not contradict, that the principal witness having knowledge of these issues is James Haber, the President of The Diversified Group Incorporated. Diversified is the Tax Matters Partner of AD Investment and AD Global.” Order, at p. 1.

Judge Halpern grilled Haber in camera, and concluded Haber was right to invoke his sacred Constitutional privilege. Haber said he would do just that, whenever and wherever asked about anything.

The non-matterers claim they can’t prove a thing without Haber, and IRS doesn’t say no. So why not give Haber immunity from prosecution and let him speak his speech trippingly on the tongue?

Well, the U. S. Attorney was being cagy (or maybe shifty). “Petitioners blame respondent for being unable to prosecute their case with the testimony of Mr. Haber. They point to an October 25, 2011, letter from the United States Attorney, Southern District ofNew York, stating that Mr. Haber had been the subject of criminal investigations by the United States Attorney’s office and Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division New York field office into his and his companies’ tax shelter transactions. A letter of September 11, 2009, from the United States Attorney states that he has no present intention of seeking criminal charges against Mr. Haber. In our order dated November 20, 2012, we reported that, in response to the Court’s suggestion, respondent’s counsel had again inquired whether the United States Attorney would be willing to grant Mr. Haber immunity in connection with his tax shelter activities. Respondent’s counsel was informed that the United States Attorney would not do so ‘and would not explain why.’” Order, at p. 2.

The non-matterers argue that IRS and the US Attorney are both on the same team, and there’s much caselaw to support this. The IRS can’t claim it’s separate from the US Attorney. So the burden of proof should be shifted to IRS.

IRS says there’s much caselaw against a petitioner who takes the Fifth. True, says Judge Halpern, but Haber isn’t the petitioner here.

IRS says that Haber, by taking the Fifth, takes himself out as a witness for IRS as well as the non-matterers. OK, says Judge Halpern, but the facts of this case are what they are.

“It may be true, as respondent argues, that, by invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify, Mr. Haber is unavailable to both sides. Yet, we cannot overcome the particular facts of this case. Apparently, Mr. Haber is no longer the subject of a criminal investigation by the Internal Revenue Service and the United States Attorney’s office, and the transactions that may have given rise to the suspicion of criminal activities are long past, yet the Unites States Attorney’s office will not categorically relieve Mr. Haber of his fear of prosecution and will not explain why.” (Emphasis by the Court.) Order, at p. 3.

Anyway, Judge Halpern reverts to the old baseball umpire’s rule: “Some is balls and some is strikes, but they ain’t nuthin’ ‘til I calls ‘em.”

Or more elegantly: “Rule 142 addresses the burden of proof. In relevant part, Rule 142(a)(1) provides: ‘The burden of proof shall be upon the petitioner, except as otherwise provided by statute or determined by the Court’ (emphasis added). We think that, given the central role that Mr. Haber played in the transactions in question and his importance to petitioners’ case, the interests of justice will be served if we grant the motion.” Order, at p. 3.

IRS, go talk to the US Attorney, or go try the case. Without Mr Haber.

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SORRY, SORRY

In Uncategorized on 09/20/2013 at 14:40

No, not the Impalas’ 1959 hit “Sorry (I Ran All the Way Home)”, but rather Gregory Scott Savoy’s reprise of his beef with IRS.

You remember Greg claimed he hadn’t gotten a fair shake at Appeals because he is disabled, so back to Appeals he went last summer. For particulars, see my blogpost “Disabled But Rehabilitated”, 7/16/13.

Now Appeals issued a NOD that “determines that his tax accounts are currently uncollectible (not only for the 2007 year at issue here but for all years) and leaves him free to file amended returns with no defined schedule. The Court therefore directed the parties, by order dated August 15, 2013, to ‘either submit a stipulated decision document, or file a status report proposing a schedule for further proceedings, or file an appropriate motion.’” Gregory Scott Savoy, Docket No. 12316-12L, filed 9/20/13, Order, at p. 1.

Looks like Greg is a winner, right? But Greg isn’t finished; like certain other characters who show up in my blogposts, Greg is a Tax Court hobbyist. Some mothers have them, and that Obliging Jurist, Judge David Gustafson, seems to get more than his share of them.

Judge Gustafson: “…Mr. Savoy filed a 17-page status report, complaining that ‘[t]he only thing that was missing from the Respondent’s version of a stipulated decision document was an apology’ as to ‘the appropriateness of the collection actions’. The undersigned judge is unaware of any authority or rationale that would give the Court jurisdiction under section 6330(d)(1) to require an apology from the IRS, as opposed to sustaining or overruling a collection determination.” Order, at p. 1.

I don’t know of any basis for that order either, Judge.

IRS, unemotional as always, files a motion for summary judgment, affirming Appeals’ NOD letting Greg off the hook.

Judge Gustafson, rather like an indulgent but slightly out-of-patience parent, tells Greg to “…file a response to respondent’s motion for summary judgment. Mr. Savoy need not duplicate in that response the narrative in his recent status report but may instead incorporate by reference any portions of the report that he intends as responsive to the IRS’s motion.” (Emphasis by the Court). Order, at p. 2.

Judge Gustafson, be prepared for another 17 pages. I’ll bet Greg isn’t the kind that takes the hint.

THE REBATE DEBATE

In Uncategorized on 09/19/2013 at 21:51

Clarifying the substantial underpayment 20% hammer, Judge Ruwe delves into Section 6664, and answers more questions than anybody really had, in Glenn Lee Snow, 141 T. C. 6, filed 9/19/13.

Blogging Tax Court is a real tour d’horizon; every day brings a different view. Yesterday it was a $13 million deficiency for BMC Software, Inc., which got a lot of chatter in the financial press. Apparently the reporters thought it was a transfer pricing case, which is the big buzz nowadays. It was, but only tangentially. You can get the real story here. See my blogpost “Stipulate, Don’t Capitulate – Redivivus”, 9/19/13.

But today we’re back in the world of the in-the-trenches preparer, as Glenn Lee is fighting about the $5567 he overstated as his withholding (he treated his FICA and Medicare/Medicaid as withheld, rather than as taxes he owed and paid). This triggers the $3K substantial understatement penalty that is at issue here.

Had he not played the clown, Glenn’s withholding of $11K was close enough for jazz (Glenn Lee is a musician), as his tax bill was under $13K. But Glenn Lee got hit with an $8K Section 6673 frivolity (that he doesn’t contest), and he agrees with the $13K tax.

I didn’t drop a blogpost when Glenn Lee got nailed by Judge Ruwe back on 4/22/13, in 2013 T. C. Memo. 114. It was a run-of-the-mill protester case, so Judge Ruwe sent IRS and Glenn Lee off for a Rule 155.

And that’s when the fight started.

IRS wants to treat the $5567 overstated withholding, for which Glenn Lee got a refund, as part of a substantial underpayment, as Glenn Lee got the $11K in withholding refunded to him too. So Glenn Lee’s understatement of tax was north of $18K, per IRS’ arithmetic.

Glenn says no, it was the $13K I should have paid, but didn’t.

The magic language is Section 6664(a), which defines “underpayment” as the amount shown on the return the taxpayer filed, plus “amounts not so shown previously assessed (or collected without assessment)”, over the amount of rebates made. Rebates means “so much of an abatement, credit, refund, or other repayment, as was made on the ground that tax imposed was less” than the excess of the amount shown on the return plus the amounts not shown but previously assessed or collected without assessment.

Clear? Thought not.

The idea is that overstated withholding equals underpayment of tax, and Judge Ruwe has caselaw that says so, upholding Reg. 1.6664-2(c)(1), which also says so.

Glenn Lee claimed his tax due was zero, hence the Section 6673 $8K dopeslap.

Glenn Lee did have $11K withheld, and Judge Ruwe says that might be “collected without assessment”, but “…petitioner received a refund of $16,684.65. Section 1.6664-2(d), Income Tax Regs., provides that the excess of credits allowable over the tax shown on the return is an amount ‘collected without assessment’ if the excess has not been refunded to the taxpayer. The excess of the amount of credits allowable under section 31 ($11,117.65) over the tax shown on the return (negative $5,567) was refunded to petitioner ($11,117.65 + $5,567 = $16,684.65), therefore, petitioner had $0 of collections without assessment. Therefore, under section 1.6664-2(a)(1)(ii), Income Tax Regs., petitioner had $0 amounts collected without assessment.” 141 T. C. 6, at pp. 10-11. (Footnotes omitted, but Judge Ruwe goes through the Regs in great detail).

Judge Ruwe has another problem: “Section 1.6664-2(e)(2), Income Tax Regs., requires us to determine ‘rebates previously made’. The regulation does not define rebates previously made. The regulation provides that rebates previously made is a component of calculating rebates. The use of the phrase ‘previously made’ implies that there is a point in time in which a ‘rebate’ must be determined to have been made so that ‘rebates previously made’ were made prior to the ‘rebate’. The regulation does not explicitly state the point in time.

“The logical cutoff point in time to determine a ‘rebate’ would be at the time the return that claims a refund is filed. Therefore, we would interpret ‘rebates previously made’ to mean rebates made before the return was filed.” 141 T. C. 6, at p. 14.

Ditto as to rebates.

“No rebates were made to petitioner before he filed his return.” 141 T. C. 6, at p. 14-15.

So the final number is that Glenn Lee understated his tax by including the overstated withholding. There were no “rebates previously made”,  and no “rebates”, because Glenn Lee took back all his withholding, tax, FICA and Medicare/Medicaid.

Judge Ruwe says this “produces a result that bases the section 6662 penalty on an ‘underpayment’ amount that represents the amount of revenue that the Government was deprived of as a result of amounts actually shown on petitioner’s return.” 141 T. C. 6, at p. 16.

IRS wins. Glenn Lee, see my blogpost “Pay The Man”, 7/31/12; ya shoulda paid the man.

STIPULATE, DON’T CAPITULATE – REDIVIVUS

In Uncategorized on 09/19/2013 at 00:15

Instead of agreeing to Schedule C concessions (see my blogpost “Stipulate, Don’t Capitulate”, 9/23/11) or failure to respond to a Rule 91 “facts deemed established” motion (see my blogpost “Stipulate, Don’t Capitulate – Part Deux”, 5/24/13), a Big Houston software outfit got hung up in a Section 482 transfer pricing settlement with IRS that winds up giving the hangee a $13 million deficiency.

Judge Kroupa, untangler of corporate tangles, gets this one: BMC Software Inc., 141 T. C. 5, filed 9/18/13.

BMC had a CFC, with which it developed software, and split up costs and sales territories. Then BMC killed the split and agreed to pay royalties to the CFC. Except IRS claimed the royalties weren’t arms’-length equivalents, and BMC capitulated, entering into a Section 7121 closing agreement, whereby BMC adjusted its gross income upwards to offset the claimed royalties to the extent not arms-length.

But that means the CFC’s income was less, so BMC had overpaid the CFC, and therefore BMC had to make secondary adjustments. BMC elected to treat the overpaid royalties as an account receivable from the CFC, rather than as a capital contribution to the CFC, per Rev. Proc. 99-32.

Judge Kroupa takes up the story: “To that end, petitioner and respondent entered into another closing agreement (accounts receivable closing agreement) that established for Federal income tax purposes interest-bearing accounts receivable from BSEH to petitioner. Respondent executed the accounts receivable closing agreement also…. The amounts of the accounts receivable corresponded to the amounts of the primary adjustments….

“The accounts receivable bore interest at the applicable Federal rate. The interest was deductible from [the CFC’s] taxable income and includible in petitioner’s taxable income.” 141 T. C. 5, at pp. 5-6.

The closing agreement provided that the CFC “will pay the account receivable, including interest thereon, by intercompany payment. Such payment will be free of the Federal income tax consequences of the secondary adjustments that would otherwise result from the primary adjustment; provided, the payment of the balance of the account, after taking into consideration any prepayment pursuant to section 4.02 of Rev. Proc. 99-32, is made within 90 days after execution of this closing agreement on behalf of the Commissioner.” 141 T. C. 5, at p. 6.

The CFC made the payment of the balance and interest on schedule.

Some years later, BMC had a mega-wad of cash offshore, parked in its CFC, so BMC wanted to take advantage of the Section 965 one-time tax-free dividend from a CFC. So BMC hauled back $721 million, and claimed it was all tax-free.

Except IRS claimed that the accounts receivable from the royalty settlement was related-party indebtedness, which reduces the tax-exempt part of the dividend from the CFC, thus the $13 million deficiency.

BMC claims Section 965(b)(3) doesn’t apply, as this deal isn’t an abusive transaction; in other words, that BMC didn’t fund the dividend from CFC. The royalty settlement took place years before, but within the timeframe when the accounts receivable would be considered related-party indebtedness.

But Judge Kroupa can’t find explicit language in Section 965(b)(3) limiting its scope to abusive deals. True, the statute gives Treasury power to enact regulations to prevent abuse, but that’s supplementary, not limiting.

Next, BMC claims the receivables weren’t debt. But IRS goes to Hank Black, law dictionarian. “Account receivable is defined as ‘[a]n account reflecting a balance owed by the debtor.’ Black’s Law Dictionary 18. Petitioner observed those requirements and included only the interest payments as income.” 141 T. C. 5, at p. 14. That’s debt.

Now for the magic language in the settlement agreement that the receivables deal “will be free of the Federal income tax consequences of the secondary adjustments that would otherwise result from the primary adjustment”.

Judge Kroupa: “Petitioner contends that the accounts receivable closing agreement precludes any further Federal income tax consequences resulting from the repayment. The accounts receivable therefore would be excluded when determining the amount of the dividend received deduction. Respondent contends that the accounts receivable closing agreement provision allows petitioner to substitute the tax consequences of the debt secondary adjustment for those of the deemed capital contribution secondary adjustments. Put another way, the accounts receivable would be established for all Federal income tax purposes with petitioner avoiding the consequences of the repayment for a deemed capital contribution. We agree with respondent.” 141 T. C. 5, at p. 16.

In other words, what BMC got was relief from capital contribution consequences and the chance to get its overpaid royalty money back tax-free, not a perpetual tax exemption. If BMC didn’t take the Rev. Proc. 99-32 route, it would have had to pay tax on the full amount it got back from the CFC when the royalty deal was blown up. It was the payback that was exempt from Federal tax consequences. And exempt because it was repayment of debt incurred during the period prohibited under Section 965(b)(3).

But it was still debt, and therefore not shielded by the tax-free one-time dividend.

Takeaway- The Law of Unintended Consequences applies to stipulations and settlements.

LET IT ALL HANG OUT

In Uncategorized on 09/17/2013 at 21:36

No, not the one-hit wonder The Hombres campaigned in 1967. It’s the general view manifested in Tax Court when taxpayers request protective order, or make motions in limine, or motions to strike pleadings.

The subject was raised by Mr. Patrick Temple-West, the enterprising reporter for Reuters, in an e-mail to me today, asking if I had statistics on won-lost, as these tend to show up in big-ticket cases. See, for example, my blogpost “Privilege Lost”, 5/29/13.

I told Mr. Temple-West I had no statistics, but it was my firm impression that taxpayers rarely get protective orders; see my blogpost “Guy On Board”, 9/13/12, the story of Diamond Packaging. But when the IRS wants a protective order, they generally (love that word!) get one; see my blogpost “Ask Me No Questions”, 6/7/12. However, bless his contrarian heart, the Judge Who Writes Like A Human Being, a/k/a The Great Dissenter, Judge Mark V. Holmes, splits the melon in my blogpost “Paraphrasing Mark Twain”, 12/12/12.

And now comes The Judge With A Heart, STJ Armen, with further proof of the foregoing, in Estate of John H. Kelleher, Deceased, Madeline Kelleher, Administrator, Docket No. 6863-13, a designated hitter filed 9/17/13.

Maddy wants IRS’ answer to her petition redacted by STJ Armen to remove “…the disputed paragraphs [which] refer to a criminal case against John H. Kelleher that was dismissed on account of his intervening death and therefore did not result in a final judgment of conviction.” Order, at p. 1.

However, IRS’ response to Maddy’s request “…is well founded and thorough, incorporating legal precedent in support of respondent’s approach….”, STJ Armen gives us one citation, Nan R. Williams, 1991 T. C. Memo, 521, filed 10/21/91.

Nan, unlike the late John H., pled guilty. John H. did not live to confront his accusers. That cuts no ice with STJ Armen. “Motions to strike are analyzed under Rule 52 of the Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure. Rule 52 provides that this Court, upon a timely motion of a party or on its own initiative, may strike from any pleading any insufficient claim or defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, frivolous, or scandalous matter. Rule 52 was derived from Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.” Order, at pp. 1-2. (Citations omitted).

And Federal Judges don’t like to strike stuff in pleadings. “In general, motions to strike pleadings have not been favored by the Federal courts. A matter will not be stricken from a pleading unless it is clear that it can have no possible bearing upon the subject matter of the litigation.” Order, at p. 2 (Citations omitted).

So Maddy, answer the paragraphs you wanted stricken, because they won’t be.

Whether someone is living or dead, the rule in Tax Court is “Let It All Hang Out.”

GOING FOR THE HAT TRICK

In Uncategorized on 09/16/2013 at 18:15

 Three blogposts in one day. To complete the hat trick, it’s an old, familiar face, Joyce A. Linzy, 2013 T. C. Memo. 219, filed 9/16/13.

Remember Joyce? Not sure? See my blogpost “The Preparer – Unprepared”, 11/8/11, Joyce’s last appearance in Tax Court.

It’s the usual unsubstantiated deductions story, on which I won’t waste much time.

The only useful tidbit is Judge Kerrigan’s comment on gambling losses. Joyce claims she has them to offset her winnings (reported on W-2Gs, of course), but didn’t take the losses on her return.

Judge Kerrigan: “Taxpayers who are not in the trade or business of gambling and who choose to calculate their taxable income using itemized deductions in lieu of the standard deduction may deduct gambling losses under certain circumstances. Section 165(d) provides that ‘[l]osses from wagering transactions shall be allowed only to the extent of the gains from such transactions’.” 2013 T. C. Memo. 219, at p. 11.

OK, but (and there’s always a “but”): “In the case of gambling winnings and losses taxpayers can substantiate their income and deductions by maintaining a contemporaneous log, see Schooler v. Commissioner, 68 T.C. 867, 871 (1977), or by consistently using a player’s card which monitors gambling activity, see Lutz v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2002-89. Many taxpayers do not keep a detailed record of their wagering winnings and losses, but we do not treat taxpayers who claim to have sustained wagering losses more favorably than other taxpayers by allowing a deduction for wagering losses when the evidence is inadequate. Schooler v. Commissioner, 68 T.C. at 871.” 2013 T. C. Memo. 219, at pp. 11-12.

Joyce has withdrawal slips from ATMs at casinos, but that’s not good enough. Unlike Fortunato Gonzalez and Maria C. Gonzalez, as to whose gambling exploits see my blogpost “The Gamblers”, 8/6/12, she doesn’t tie the withdrawals in with the gambling activities, and unlike Fortunato and Maria C., gambling’s not Joyce’s major source of income.

A pocket notebook, even the paper kind, is a gambler’s friend.

CHANNELING FREDDIE

In Uncategorized on 09/16/2013 at 17:53

The Few (no not the RAF, the long-suffering readers of this blog) will remember, perhaps, the redoubtable Freddie. If you’ve mercifully forgotten this gem of the Tax Court Bar, see by blogposts “How Not To Do It”, 11/21/12, and “The Business As ATM”, 6/20/13.

This is not another tale of Freddie’s missteps. Unhappily, Freddie has a colleague who is living up (or rather, down) to Freddie’s standards.

Here’s the story of Ella Wallace, as told by Judge Cohen in 2013 T. C. Memo. 218, filed 9/16/13.

Ella wants Section 6015(f) relief. Husband Ronald was running a family business called American Haulers, and the Wallaces also owned an oil field servicing outfit, but Ronald fell ill (and was at death’s door, according to Ella’s attorney, whom we shall call Yeff). Ronald’s successor, Wilbanks, ran the haulers into the ground before dying “his own se’f”, as they say in East Texas.

There’s a little matter of $7800 in tax due for the year at issue, per the joint return Ella and Ronald filed. Ronald and Ella were still married during this time.

IRS assesses tax and interest. Ella timely filed Form 8857, but “(T)he information petitioner submitted through her counsel to the Appeals Office in support of her request for relief consisted primarily of information concerning Wallace’s health. The only submitted financial information reported that American Haulers was out of business; no personal financial information concerning income, assets, expenses, or liabilities was submitted.” 2013 T. C. Memo. 218, at p. 3. A wee bit sketchy for a Section 6015(f) case, whether old rules or new rules apply.

Nevertheless, IRS reviews under the new rules, Notice 2012-8, 2012-4 IRB 309. For further details, see my blogpost “Innocence is Bliss”, 1/6/12. The spectre of Sriram is off the table at IRS, and Judge Cohen doesn’t pick up on it here.

This is probably because she finds 2012-8 irrelevant. “(Although streamlined procedures have been proposed by Notice 2012-8, supra, economic hardship and knowledge are still factors to be considered under the proposal. Reconsideration of petitioner’s request during the pendency of this case is immaterial to the result). 2013 T. C. Memo. 218, at p. 6.

“Petitioner did not appear at trial, and the parties submitted the case fully stipulated under Rule 122. Her counsel represented that Wallace’s continuing illness prevented petitioner’s appearance. Respondent did not object to an affidavit signed by petitioner, and it was received in evidence. That affidavit, however, addressed only Wallace’s [Ronald’s] poor health, Wilbanks’  mismanagement of American Haulers, and Wilbanks’ death. Petitioner acknowledges that ‘our personal income during this time was from Wallace Tool[s].’[The oil well servicer] The affidavit did not address the material issues, to wit, whether petitioner knew or should have known that the tax reported on the 2007 return would not be paid, whether she would suffer financial hardship if required to pay it, and whether it would be inequitable to hold her liable for the unpaid balance.” 2013 T. C. Memo. 218, at pp. 5-6.

The result, of course, is that Ella doesn’t get innocent spouse treatment.

Now it’s true that a sloppy record alone is no reason why I should call attention to Yeff’s performance. After all, greater attorneys than he (inter alia, as the expensive lawyers say, F. Lee Bailey; see my blogposts “Service Trumps Sickness”, 4/2/12, and “A Victim Of His Own Success”, 4/4/12) have come to grief in Tax Court.

But Yeff, like Freddie, isn’t a first-time neophyte. “The Court takes judicial notice that counsel has appeared of record in numerous cases in this Court.” See Ella Wallace, Docket No. 20522-10, filed 9/5/13, at  p. 2.

Judge Cohen anent Yeff’s performance; for starters: “On August 9, 2013, petitioner’s Counsel was directed to show cause why he should not be subject to sanction for failure to comply with the Court’s Orders and Rules. On August 22, 2013, the Court received a document titled ‘Motion to Set Aside the Judgment and to Allow for a Late Filing of a Responsive Brief Tax Court Rule 162 and Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60.’ That document could not be filed as titled because there was no judgment in this case. An opinion, much less a decision, had not been filed. The cited rules have no application in this situation. No reply brief was attached. The Clerk of the Court, therefore, was instructed to file the document as a Response to Order to Show Cause, as the content indicated it was intended. The content of that response, however, misstates the record, misstates the authorities, and cites irrelevant case law.” Ella Wallace, Docket No. 20522-10, filed 9/5/13, at p. 1.

But wait, there’s more: “A practitioner before this Court is required to carry out his or her practice in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct of the American Bar Association. Rule 201(a), Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure. Tax Court Rule 202(a)(3) specifically identifies as a ground for discipline any conduct that violates the letter and spirit of the Model Rules. For example, Model Rule 1.1 requires a lawyer to provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. Model Rule 1.3 requires a lawyer to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client. Model Rule 3.4(c) prohibits a lawyer from knowingly disobeying court rules and orders. Counsel’s conduct in this case seems to have been deficient on these and possibly other grounds.” Order, at p. 2.

I know that there but for the grace of you-know-Whom go any of us. And we’ve all blown cases, and sometimes blown ’em big-time. But isn’t it time for a competency test for Tax Court?

AN APPEAL IS NOT DUE PROCESS

In Uncategorized on 09/16/2013 at 16:44

Whoever was advising the taxpayer in Creditron Financial Corporation, 2013 T. C. Memo. 217, filed 9/16/13 (and get those corporate returns in today, guys! Don’t waste time reading this blogpost), wasn’t down at National Harbor, MD last month, because the IRS’ presenters there made it very clear that the Collections Appeal Program is not the same as Collections Due Process. By a long way.

I’ll spare you the lengthy saga of Creditron and its unpaid 941s and FUTA. Creditron filed the returns but didn’t pay all the tax due, so IRS assessed and tacked on interest and additions. Creditron petitioned late from a CDP denial, so no Tax Court. Then Creditron asked for and got an equivalent hearing (again no trip to Tax Court from denial of taxpayer’s appeal).

But Creditron did file Form 9423 (more than once), looking for a Collections Appeal Program hearing. Which Creditron got, but lost again, as they were consistently noncompliant with paying their withholding taxes.

Of course, Judge Chiechi tosses Creditron’s petition on jurisdictional grounds.

As to the CAP vs CDP: “The Collection Appeals Program provides an administrative appeal for ‘certain collection actions’ and the rejection and termination of installment agreements. IRM pt. 8.24.1.1.1(1)-(3) (May 27, 2004). The IRM points out the distinction between a CAP Appeals Office hearing and an Appeals Office hearing, see, e.g., IRM pt. 5.1.9.4(1) (Jan. 1, 2007), and indicates that ‘[t]he taxpayer has the right to go to court on Appeals’ determinations under CDP but not under CAP, see IRM pt. 8.24.1.1.1(5).14.'” 2013 T. C. Memo. 217, at p. 28 (Footnote omitted, but I’m getting to it).

The omitted footnote: “Consistent with IRM pt. 8.24.1.1.1(5) (May 27, 2004), the instructions for Form 9423 informed the taxpayer that ‘[o]nce the Appeals Officer makes a decision on your case, that decision is binding on both you and the IRS. This means that both you and the IRS are required to accept the decision and live up to its terms.’” 2013 T. C. Memo. 217, at p. 28, footnote 14.

That means binding arbitration, guys. No review by Tax Court or anyone else. Take a Collections Appeal at your peril.

NEVER SMALL

In Uncategorized on 09/13/2013 at 15:38

A designated hitter from Special Trial Judge Lew (The Right Spelling) Carluzzo teaches Pierre R. Levy, tax matterer, that no FPAA can ever be small enough to merit Section 7463 small-claimer treatment.

The case is Go Apparel, LLC, Pierre R. Levy, Tax Matters Partner, Docket No. 3519-13S, filed 9/13/13, but it won’t be “S” once STJ Lew gets through with it.

Pierre petitions from what he calls a deficiency, except it isn’t, and asks for the case to be treated as a small claimer, which it also isn’t.

There’s no SNOD, rather there’s a FPAA. Now that sets up a Section 6226(a) petition. But Section 7463(a), the small-claimer statute, speaks only of a “redetermination of a deficiency”, and this isn’t a deficiency (although it may wind up so for the partners). At least, not yet.

So IRS moved to drop the letter “S” from the docket. STJ Lew says that’s moot (although he might have granted the motion), but orders the “S” dropped anyway, and strikes the case from the small-claims calendar, continuing it generally (that is, adjourning it until it can be tried in a proper place).

A FPAA is never small.

“VOT DID SHE SET?” – PART DEUX

In Uncategorized on 09/12/2013 at 17:51

Not much out of Tax Court today, 9/12/13, but nice to see my blogpost “Bowling For Dollars”, 9/10/13,  got picked up by the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants on their 2014 Tax blog.

But here’s a tidbit for my fans.

Turns out Judge Laro isn’t the only Tax Court Judge facing intelligibility questions. See my blogpost “Vot Did She Set?”, 6/25/13. Judge Buch has a somewhat different problem in the same vein, when he confronts Securitas Holdings and Subsidiaries, Docket No. 20216-10, filed 9/12/13.

You’ll remember that Securitas was the insurance company with Section 501(c)15 problems; if not, see my blogposts “Privilege Lost”, 5/29/13, and “Closing the Buch”, 7/2/13.

Well, following the document joust, Securitas and IRS had a trial. But the results were less than satisfactory.

Judge Buch: “On September 11, 2013, the Court held a conference call with the parties regarding errors in the transcript and multiple portions of testimony that are described in the transcript as ‘inaudible’.” Order, at p. 1.

So it is “ORDERED that Capital Reporting Company shall again listen to the tapes of the proceeding held in Washington, DC on July 23, 2013, to verify portions already transcribed and correct portions labeled ‘inaudible’ and shall provide a corrected transcript, along with a Certificate of Transcriber and Proofreader, to the Court and to counsel for each party on or before September 27, 2013.” Order, at p. 1.

Vot did she set?