In Uncategorized on 10/16/2018 at 10:14

Whatever will Tax Court get up to when I take an evening off to go to the opera? Even though Judge Chiechi is officially fully retired (see my blogpost “Judge Chiechi Retires – Fully,” 9/25/18), she had a decision last evening that almost had me following Judge Holmes’ lead and quoting Scripture. It’s another church case, and it brings out the importance of bearing the burden of proof.

Richard I. Presley and Martine N. Presley, 2018 T. C. Memo. 171, filed 10/15/18, don’t get a break from the Section 6662(a) chop, despite having three (count ’em, three) CPA’s (one of whom also had a master’s degree in tax) to guide them. Plus a qualified appraiser.

No scenic easement here, but a donation of land (or maybe ponds) to grow blueberries to fund their non-profit family church via a for-profit LLC, their residence (where they resided post-donation, a no-no), and a tractor-mower.

You can, if you wish, read all 103 (count ’em, 103) pages of Judge Chiechi’s deconstruction of the trial record. Richard’s and Martine’s crew of experts reminds me of G. B. Shaw’s remark about trying to grow roses on opera house seats by hiring expensive gardeners.

But the key is knowing what you have to prove and getting it into the record.

Editorializing, I think Judge Chiechi came down a wee bit too hard on Richard and Martine when it came to the accuracy chops. True, their experts may have been less than brilliant on the stand, and Richard may not have been the best of witnesses, but Judge Chiechi has assigned to Richard and Martine foreknowledge of the inconsistencies and contradictions IRS’ astute trial counsel brought out on the trial.

If Richard and Martine were capable of the cross-examination meted out to the experts by IRS’ trial counsel, chopping them might answer. To expect a preacher and a blueberry farmer to do so is loading too heavy a burden, and woe to Richard’s and Martine’s trial lawyer.

Oops, almost quoted Scripture again.

Edited to add: Thinking it over, maybe I was a little too heavy on Judge Chiechi. After all, I didn’t see the trial, or hear and watch the witnesses’ testimony. The experts may have been far less brilliant on the stand than their resumes. And Richard and Martine might have told a tale that was less than compelling.

Of course, few people find the witness stand a pleasant locale in the best of circumstances. I remember how distasteful it is, even when one wins.

  1. […] case like this is irresistible to Lew Taishoff with Bearing Burdens Heavy To Bear.  His focus is on the Tax Court proceedings rather than the story behind the […]


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