Attorney-at-Law

THE FLAVOR DU JOUR

In Uncategorized on 12/09/2013 at 13:45

Seems that delay of the game is in the air today, 12/9/13, as Judge Lauber deals with a claim by the Viacom King Sumner M. Redstone that IRS is prevented by the equitable doctrine of laches (delay) from nailing the aforesaid Redstone for gift taxes on gifts he made in 1972, about which he never told IRS and never bothered filing returns.

Too bad, Sumner, laches doesn’t fly. See Sumner Redstone, Docket 8097-13, filed 12/9/13.

Judge Lauber gives Sumner the unwelcome news: “It is well settled that the United States is not subject to the defense of laches in enforcing its rights. The inapplicability of the laches doctrine is especially clear where (as here) the Government seeks to enforce tax claims that are governed by an express statute of limitations. In such cases, the ‘timeliness of Government claims is governed by the statute of limitations enacted by Congress.’ Fein v. United States, 22 F.3d 631, 634 (5th Cir. 1994). Accord, Kohler v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2008-127, 95 T.C.M. (CCH) 1494, 1496-97; Wright v. Commissioner, 89 T.C.M. at 666.” Order, at p. 2 (Some citations omitted).

When a Judge begins with “it is well-settled”, start packing your briefcase, counselor, it’s game over and walk home.

Although there some dicta lying around that maybe, just maybe, laches might apply against the US of A in an off-the-wall circumstance, Judge Lauber isn’t going there.

“In the instant case, the Government seeks to enforce a public right, in the form of a federal tax claim, that is governed by an express statute of limitations enacted by Congress. Petitioner has cited no case, and we have discovered none, in which a court has applied laches against the United States in a situation such as this.” Order, at pp. 2-3.

Anyhow, if he could wriggle in some argument for laches to apply, Sumner “would need to demonstrate, for example, that the IRS was aware of the 1972 gifts and sat on its rights; that petitioner has suffered ‘undue prejudice’ because of this delay; and that petitioner ‘comes into equity with clean hands.’  See, Fridovich v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2001-32, 81 T.C.M. (CCH) 1143, 1146. Because there are material factual disputes concerning each of these points, disposing of the laches issue via motion for judgment on the pleadings would be wholly inappropriate in any event.” Order, at p. 3 (Footnotes omitted).

But one of the omitted footnotes is worth a passing glance. Sumner raised a Fifth Amendment due process issue, but he’ll get a chance to litigate his claims in Court, so no due process problem.

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