In Uncategorized on 03/20/2015 at 17:00

The old nursery rhyme says Friday’s child is loving and giving. Maybe so in their private lives, but they’re an interesting bunch today, as, in the absence of opinions, we sort through some orders, designated or otherwise, from the Glasshouse at 400 Second Street, NW.

First is a “welcome to the club” for Patti A. Vega, starring in Manuel F. Vega, Deceased and Patti A. Vega, Docket No. 2444-15S, filed 3/20/15. It looks like a routine CA successor-in-interest (surviving spouse) substitution. But my “welcome to the club” is sourced from Ch J Michael B. (“Iron Mike”) Thornton’s admonition to Patti A.

“…Patti A. Vega is appointed as successor in interest for the Estate of Manuel F. Vega, Deceased, solely for the purpose of maintaining this proceeding. This Order is not intended to entitle Patti A. Vega to any fees for pursuing this action.” Order, at p. 2.

Expecting to get paid, Patti A.? Now you know what it’s like to be a lawyer.

Next at bat is Ronald Curtiss Grumbkow, Docket No. 2984-14, filed 3/20/15, a designated hitter off-the-bencher from The Blogger’s Friend, that Obliging Jurist Judge David Gustafson. I’ll come to Judge Gustafson’s less genial side presently.

Ron messed up reporting his Social Security, and that isn’t hard, but Ron says he never got the 1099-C from Portfolio Recovery Associates (PRA). I’m not surprised, as the Recoverers were trying to collect a debt that Ron claims is twenty years old.

“It appears that PRA first attempted to contact Mr. Grumbkow by telephone on December 13, 2006–i.e., more than seven years after his last payment. Thereafter it allegedly attempted repeatedly to reach Mr. Grumbkow by telephone. The foregoing facts–if they are facts–are derived from a document (Ex. 6-R) provided by PRA to the Commissioner and offered into evidence at trial by the Commissioner without any explanation by any individual, other than a written authentication pursuant to Federal Rule of Evidence 902(11).” Transcript, at p. 3.

Strip-mining bad debt is a popular scam. Boiler-room operators buy up time-barred or bankruptcy-discharged debt for half-a-cent or less on the dollar. If they can collect three cents of such debt they’ve hit a home run. They routinely violate the Federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, but their victims never heard of 15USC§1692 et seq., as my out-on-the-slopes-at-Vail colleagues would say, and can‘t afford a lawyer to collect the piddling penalties the statute affords.

I’ve been getting calls for years from these types about a debt a family member allegedly owes, and I hang up on them. But some people have been fleeced, big-time, by these crooks.

Judge Gustafson isn’t a friend of theirs, either, and why IRS is acting as their collection agent is also an interesting story.

Here’s Ron’s story. “At trial Mr. Grumbkow testified very convincingly that he did not know whether he had an unpaid balance due to Amoco from the 1990s, had not received phone calls from PRA, and did not know what PRA is.” Transcript, at p. 5.

Comes Section 6201(d) to the rescue. IRS “…shall have the burden of producing reasonable and probative information concerning the deficiency in addition to such information return.” Transcript, at p. 7.

And of course IRS’s counsel finds himself in the same position as that against which the fictional Michael Corleone was warned in the famous restaurant scene.

This gives Judge Gustafson some time off. “We therefore need not address the issue of Mr. Grumbkow’s apparent insolvency in 2011 (which would negate discharge-of-indebtedness income; see sec. 108(a)(1)(B)), nor the question whether any discharge took place not in 2011 but years earlier, pursuant to the section 6050P regulations, nor the question whether the statute of limitations would have rendered the alleged 1999 debt uncollectible long before 2011 in any event.” Transcript, at p. 8.

Finally, we have not a child but a corporation, but some courts say corporations are people, so I’m letting in L. A. Horn Excavating & Construction, Inc., Docket No. 23866-13L, filed 3/20/15.

Judge Gustafson remanded this one to Appeals a while back, and there’s apparently a draft supplemental NOD floating around, but a final NOD has yet to issue.

Judge Gustafson wants status reports stating what gives.

And lest L. A. Horn Excavating try digging in (sorry, guys), Judge Gustafson shows his less-than-genial side.

“Petitioner should recall the statement made by the Court on November 17, 2014 (Tr. at 54): ‘[I]f I remand it to [IRS] appeals and you have another opportunity to make a proposal of an installment payment or something like that, you’re going to have to get serious. Because … [i]f this case comes around again without you having come up with an agreement they can accept, this is going to be easy to decide the next time. It’s all going to be laid out in clear numbers and clear decision making.’” Order, at p. 1.

L. A., you build it, you own it.


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