In Uncategorized on 04/20/2022 at 16:28

I recently opined that “when Congress starves the IRS, it isn’t the IRS that is hurt, it is the honest taxpayers.” See my blogpost “Starvation Hurts,” 3/15/22. But apparently some nutriment got through, because IRS was vigorously recruiting litigation counsel. See my blogpost “The Teddy Roosevelt Gambit,” 1/21/22.

OK, great, now we can cheer the IRS’ new-fledged myrmidons in Wystan Hugh Auden’s immortal words “Agents of the Fisc pursue/Absconding tax-defaulters through/The sewers of provincial towns.”

But do we really need three such agents to try the case of Christian Sezonov and Francine M. Sezonov, T. C. Memo. 2022-40, filed 4/20/22? OCC put three  (count ’em, three) of “these few, these happy few” on a Section 469(c)(7)(B) real estate pro case that was dead long before arrival.

Check out Chris’ and Francine’s summaries of their post-event, ballpark guesstimates of the hours they spent professionally real estating, T. C. Memo. 2022-40, at p. 3.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Ex-Ch J L Paige (“Iron Fist”) Marvel will tell us, if we hadn’t already found out.

“Both Mr. and Mrs. Sezonov’s estimated hours fall well short of the 750 hours that are required to qualify them as real estate professionals in each of the years at issue.”  T. C. Memo. 2022-40, at p. 6.

Now I don’t know what other issues there were to hash out, so maybe three IRS attorneys were necessary to get to this point. But when this case went to trial there was only the Section 469(c)(7)(B) issue left standing. So why didn’t two of the three go do something else? Or maybe just move for summary J; assuming that Chris’ and Francine’s numbers were spot on, they still lose.

Starvation sure hurts, but worse than starvation is failure to deploy effectively and economically the resources you do have.

Just ask Vlad. But this is a nonpolitical blog.

  1. None of the three IRS attorneys appears to be a new hire, but it’s not unusual for a tag team to be fielded against a petitioner with a dubious case. In this one, though, at least the taxpayers were not pro sese for much of their four-plus-years journey through the Tax Court labyrinth over their 2013 and 2014 returns. Rather, their first lawyer withdrew in May of 2019, and their second withdrew in August 2020. And then, the issues may not have been that clear-cut: elapsed time between trial and decision was 18 months.


  2. Mr Kamman, I agree that the docket shows a lot of back-and-forth over the issues in this case, even including vacating parts of stipulations, so clearly IRS’ counsels’ time and effort were warranted until all the stipulations became final. But when all the issues save real estate professionalism were finally resolved by agreement, did it really require three lawyers to try IRS’ case?


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