In Uncategorized on 05/13/2016 at 15:57

But Judge Gustafson Is Still Obliging

It’s Friday the Thirteenth, and, as usual, there is nary a T. C., a Memo., or even a Sum. Op.

But Judge David Gustafson, that Obliging Jurist, ever mindful of the struggling blogger (unlike those favored by the munificence of Google AdSense, e.g., hardworking Kevin A. Clarke, Jr.), has a couple designated off-the-benchers (hi, Judge Homes).

First up, Frederick Dabankah, Docket No. 7911-15, filed 5/13/16.

Debankah “…has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in social sciences.” Transcript, at p. 4.

Dabankah claims he drove 83,800 miles, at a cost of $46,509, in the year at issue, in the course of his newspaper delivery business. But it is uncertain whether Debankah reported the income from the newspaper delivery business, because he also claims he worked as a massage therapist. Whether the massaging gave rise to the wages he received from the University Club as reported on the W-2 they gave him, or the 1099 he received from an individual, is unclear.

On the trial, Judge Gustafson cannot oblige Debankah. “Mr. Dabankah has not substantiated any amount of the car and truck expense as an ordinary and necessary business expense. His return claimed mileage expense for 83,800 miles. When this case was called from the calendar, he estimated that the miles might actually be only 28,000. When the case was recalled, he revised his estimate to 18,000, then to 15,000 to 18,000, then to 8,000.” Transcript, at p. 7.

What is clear is that Debankah has no mileage log to introduce. He asked for a continuance to find his tax preparer to obtain the log, but that wouldn’t have helped him.

Judge Gustafson: “We do not believe his testimony about the log.” Transcript, at p. 7.

Debankah wants to blame his accountant to avoid penalties, but has no evidence what he told his accountant or how his accountant erred.

Judge Gustafson has a better result for Marcus Andre McKnight, Docket No. 11083-15, filed 5/13/16. McK’s children are neither his qualifying children nor his qualifying relatives for the Section 152 largesse. His arithmetic doesn’t work for the “more than half of the year” test, and therefore the children are someone else’s qualifying children, which puts paid to qualifying relative.

McK omits half his income from his return. His excuse is he earned about the same amount from two different companies, so he thought the W-2s were duplicates.

Judge Gustafson doesn’t care for that one.

“The return that Mr. McKnight filed reported less than half of his earnings. Overlooking a few dollars might not be negligent; but overlooking half of one’s income is not consistent with a ‘reasonable attempt to comply with the provisions of the internal revenue laws’ and does not reflect an “exercise [of] ordinary and reasonable care in the preparation of a tax return’. Transcript, at p. 9.

So McK is up for the negligence chop.


“…given the complexity of section 152, we are persuaded that Mr. Knight’s mistaken claim of tax benefits for his three sons was attributable to ‘reasonable cause’ and ‘good faith’ under section 6664(d) (1), so that he is not liable for penalty on the portion of his underpayment that is attributable to those child-related issues.” Transcript, at p. 10.

Judge Gustafson is more than obliging…he’s decent.


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