In Uncategorized on 12/06/2021 at 13:28

I’ve just concluded an e-mail volley with my colleague Peter Reilly, CPA. Mr Reilly asked why I hadn’t blogged Estate of Prince R. Nelson, Deceased, Comerica Bank & Trust, N. A., Executor, Docket No. 11442-21, 11/30/21*. It seems the case has been picked up by the trade press, due to the high profile of the decedent in the popular music line.

I replied that I hadn’t, because the order was routine. Besides which, if the trade press had discussed it, I was not minded to tag along. Mr Reilly noted the stip of settled issues was available from the documents department at Tax Court, and, as the case is settled pending local probate court approval, the stipulated decision will doubtless be sealed. Moreover, the particular trade press outlet that carried the most commentary was locked behind a paywall. So, to spare the frugal, would I, who make my blog free to all comers, cover the story?

No; I’m as frugal as they, if not more so. If the document is not sealed, anyone can order a copy, for the same fifty cents per page, three-buck cap.

But more to the point, I remembered that our colleague, Mr Paul Streckfus, deplored the sealing of stipulated decisions. Not only must justice must be done; justice must be seen to be done.

On the same day that Judge Holmes issued the order in Nelson, Judge Albert G (“Scholar Al”) Lauber issued his opinion in James R. O’Donnell, 2021 T. C. Memo. 134, for which see my blogpost “Bring Them Into Compliance,” 11/30/21.

It’s not “in the interest of government,” said Judge Scholar Al, that a habitual non-filer who ran up a tax tab north of $2 million over a two-decade stretch should buy his way out at a dime on the dollar, even if he was dead broke and IRS couldn’t get any more.

But even more to the point (and yes, dear readers, there definitely is one this time), I can’t say it better than Judge Scholar Al: “Because reports of accepted OICs are publicly available, see sec. 6103(k)(1), the IRS may reject an OIC if it determines that the ‘public reaction to the acceptance of the offer could be so negative as to diminish future voluntary compliance,’ see IRM pt.” 2021 T. C. Memo. 134, at p. 12. (Emphasis added).

“Publicly available,” forsooth. So people can see if IRS is letting some animals who are more equal than others off the hook on the cheap.

OK, US Tax Court. OK, Genius Baristas and 18Fs (if you latter types are still around trying to “improve the way the US Tax Court engages with the public”; aye aye, roger that, most F affirmatory). Why are these stipulated settlement orders not publicly available at no charge on the website? Rule 27(b)(2)(B) says the website shall contain “any opinion, order, or decision of the Court.”

*Estate of Prince R Nelson Docket No 11442-21 11 30 21


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