Archive for November, 2022|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on 11/30/2022 at 18:12

Thus I remarked ten (count ’em, ten) years ago. Today Judge Ronald L. (“Ingenuity”) Buch unloads six (count ’em, six) IRS webposts, of which he takes judicial notice. After having noticed, and recounted the post-handoff bobble by AO M. (name omitted), who took the case from AO S. (name omitted), who hadn’t been able to get to her office because COVID, Judge Buch bucks Ryan Michael Sterling, Docket No. 10995-21L, filed 11/30/22, back to Appeals in an off-the-bencher..

Ryan was another victim of the midyear fall from ACA grace when a pay raise or other good fortune lifts the lucky winner above the 400% of poverty limit, causing the APTA cutoff. Since Ryan Michael’s pickup of the overage was a self reported, he never got a SNOD, so he could challenge liability as the CDP he got after IRS gave him a NITL.

But his “no fair” argument wasn’t raised at the telephonic hearing, and even if it had been, “we apply the law as written.” Transcript, at p. 11.

So Ryan Michael is out, right?

No. Because AO S was locked out of her office, whence Ryan Michael had mailed the Form 433-A and supporting documents in support of his IA request, Judge Buch has the webposts to prove the lockout, and Ryan Michael was a believable witness when he swore he mailed the materials timely.

AO M. got the case from AO S. for reasons unexplained. AO M. should have followed up with Ryan Michael before issuing a NOD.

“Here, Mr. Sterling raised the issue of a collection alternative. Generally, it is not an abuse of discretion for a settlement officer to refuse to consider collection alternatives if the taxpayer failed to submit requested financial information. The settlement officer’s failure to follow up with the taxpayer regarding missing information before sustaining a collection action, however, might be considered an abuse of discretion. See, e.g., Lewis v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2012–138, 103 T.C.M. (CCH) 1758, 1761.” Transcript, at p. 12.

For the story on Lewis, see my blogpost “Patching Doesn’t Cover,” 5/16/12. But here the story is worse.

” Ms. S. sent Mr. Sterling a letter scheduling a hearing and requesting collection information. Going into the telephonic hearing, Ms. S. was unaware whether Mr. Sterling had mailed the requested information because she had not been to the office. Ms. S. again requested financial information. Mr. Sterling testified that he promptly mailed the information to Ms. S. The case activity record does not show that anyone followed up with Mr. Sterling, even after his case was reassigned to a new settlement officer, Ms. M. She received the case and immediately proceeded to issue a notice of immediately determination….” Transcript, at pp. 13-14.

But the webposts prove that IRS was well aware that there were more than 2.9 million (count ’em, 2.9 million) pieces of unopened mail sitting in various IRS locations, Transcript, at p.10..

Abuse of discretion. Back to Appeals, and go find Ryan Michael’s packages.



In Uncategorized on 11/30/2022 at 16:13

Judge Wells has occasion today to consider the effect of an incarcerated spouse when innocent spousery is on the menu. Here’s Jason Todd Reynolds and Kelli Hunter Reynolds, T. C. Memo. 2022-115, filed 11/30/22.There’s a bunch deficiencies, add-ons and chops (hi, Judge Holmes), but these are conceded. Kelli wants innocent spousery.

Some of the deficiencies arise from Kelli’s unreported unemployment compensation, interest, and legal fees; although employed during some of the years at issue, Kelli also had her own law practice in the basement of their five (count ’em, five) bedroom house. She and JT did have five (count ’em, five) children, the last of whom was born while JT was in the slammer.

JT did provide Kelli with a diamond anniversary ring, a vintage coat (not sure what that is; maybe what thrills Steven Porterfield on Antiques Roadshow), and a designer handbag. Unhappily, JT was adding to his salary with irregular unauthorized donations from the church where he worked as director of finance, for which he eventually took an eight-year fall.

After Judge Wells blows off all Kelli’s arguments for innocent spousery, he is left with the question whether Kelli and JT were married while JT was guesting with the State of Maryland.

“Petitioner wife argues, however, that she is entitled to relief because under Maryland law they became legally separated during petitioner husband’s incarceration. She alternatively argues that they were not members of the same household during that time. We disagree with both arguments. Under Maryland law, there are only two types of judicially sanctioned marital dissolutions: an absolute divorce and a limited one. Each type of divorce requires a judicial decree to be effective. Petitioners do not assert that they ever obtained a judicial decree of legal separation. We therefore reject that argument as providing grounds for section 6015(c) relief.

“We similarly reject petitioner wife’s argument that she had not been a member of the same household as her husband during the 12- month period ending on the date she elected section 6015 relief. The regulations provide that a requesting spouse and a nonrequesting spouse ‘are considered members of the same household during either spouse’s temporary absences from the household if it is reasonable to assume that the absent spouse will return to the household, and the household or a substantially equivalent household is maintained in anticipation of such return.’ Treas. Reg. § 1.6015-3(b)(3)(i). Petitioner husband’s period in federal prison is considered a temporary absence. Id. (‘Examples of temporary absences may include, but are not limited to, absence due to incarceration, illness, business, vacation, military service, or education.’ (Emphasis added.)). Petitioners therefore remained members of the same household during that time.” T. C. Memo. 2022-115, at p. 9. (Citations omitted).

Kelli says she lost the five-bedroom home to foreclosure while JT was doing time. She took the kids and moved in with her parents. That’s compelling, says Judge Wells, but Kelli never sought judicial separation or divorce, and JT promptly moved back in with Kelli and kids as soon as he got outside.

Loyalty defeats innocent spousery.


In Uncategorized on 11/29/2022 at 18:06

Entia non sunt multiplicanda sine necessitate” or “keep it simple, stupid” is a good rule to follow, especially when creating business entities. Today’s Tax Court release features two (count ’em, two) such.

First up, Heather P. Dunn and Edison Dunn, T. C. Memo. 2022-112, filed 11/29/22. Heather and Edison each separately run one real estate operation, and also formed an LLC, which they owned together, to acquire and manage another. But they both have full-time non-real estate jobs, and dodgy time logs for their material participation in the real estate. The LLC had first an on-site agent (Heather and Ed lived 150 miles away) and then a managing agency. What they didn’t have was a Section 469(c)(7)(A) coverall, grouping all their real estate into one activity. This might have saved their real estate pro status. Heather tried to write off her individually owned automobile on the LLC’s return; “Petitioners failed to explain why [LLC] should be entitled to deductions for property it did not own.” T. C. Memo. 2022-112, at p.4.

It doesn’t get better.

Next, Intan N. Ismail & Mohd Razi Abd Rahim, T. C. Memo. 2022-113, filed 11/29/22, claim passthrough deductions from Daddy’s RNR Sendirian Berhad, which is Malaysian for LLC. Except they never showed they owned any interest in said LLC, until in response to an IRS challenge, they produced a “share-swap” agreement that said that In & Mohd would acquire the shares some time after the years at issue. And they backed that up with more paper.

Judge Paris: “During the course of the litigation, Dr. Rahim provided a revised directors’ report for fiscal [Year One] that listed him as owning half the shares of RNR and a directors’ report for the previous fiscal year purporting to reflect his purchase of 250,000 shares of RNR. Given Dr. Rahim’s easy access to the directors’ reports, and ability to influence the contents thereof, and without other evidence to support his purported ownership of RNR, we do not find the revised directors’ report to be credible.

“Neither have petitioners provided any evidence that Dr. Rahim and Mr. Nordin exercised the share swap agreement before the relinquishment date set forth by the express terms of the contract.” T. C. Memo. 2022-113, at p. 8.

And RNR never filed Form 8832, Entity Classification Election, the famous “check-the-box”, electing passthrough status, or Form 8858, Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Foreign Disregarded Entities (FDEs) and Foreign Branches (FBs). In and Mohd listed RNR’s address as Overland Park, KS, and not Malaysia, on the Schedule Cs they filed whereon they reported the losses from RNR.

Watch those entia.


In Uncategorized on 11/29/2022 at 17:21

“Bringing Some Discipline”

Boechler, P.C., 142 S. Ct. 1493 (2022), you’ll remember, grafted equitable tolling onto CDP petitions. Now Hallmark Research Collective, 159 T. C. 6, filed 11/29/22, whose motion to vacate the one-day-late based toss of their petition from a SNOD then-Ch J Maurice B (“Mighty Mo”) Foley bucked over to Judge David Gustafson, get their 57 (count ’em, 57) page response.

And it’s a beauty.

The Supremes said equitable tolling was non-jurisdictional in Section 6330 cases, as there was no long line of settled law on CDP petitions. Quite right, says Judge Gustafson; Congress first added CDP petitions to Tax Court jurisprudence in 1998; only 24 (count ’em, 24) years ago. By Tax Court standards, that’s last week.

But the petitioning a SNOD goes back to 1924. For a blow-by-blow enumeration, see 159 T. C. 6, at pp.43-57. Judges Gustafson catalogues every amendment and enactment of Section 6213 and its ancestors. Nowhere was it ever suggested that the 90-day cutoff was anything but jurisdictional.

Section 7459(d) gets a play. Barring Tax Court from entering decision in the amount sought by IRS when a petition is tossed for want of jurisdiction prevents both an IRS walkover for one day late petition, and a petitioner from withdrawing a timely petition, thus preventing Tax Court from entering decision in the amount sought.

The Hallmarks try claiming that Section 6214, and not Section 6213 confers jurisdiction. Judge Gustafson says no,. all Section 6214 does is prevent a multiplicity of proceedings, by letting IRS assert a greater deficiency than stated in the SNOD, rather than serving a second SNOD.

You have to read this opinion. If you want someone to dam the silt, buck the case over to Judge David Gustafson.


In Uncategorized on 11/28/2022 at 16:39

As there is neither opinion nor order from United States Tax Court worthy of comment today, I withdraw my pass from a request from my colleague Peter Reilly, CPA. Mr. Reilly, as always manifests “the cool clear eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth,” as Mr. Frank Loesser put it. During this Thanksgiving weekend, Mr. Reilly suggested that it would “(B)e great if you give the Taishoff treatment to that opinion.  It has a lot of interesting elements to it.”

“That opinion” is, of course, the hallowed Cohan v. Com’r, 11 B.T.A. 743 (1928), re’d in part 39 F. 2d 540 (2 Cir, 1930).. George M., theatrical legend whose graven image overlooks the cut-rate ticket outlet at 48th & Broadway on this Minor Outlying Island off the Coast of North America, starred in this epic. Judge Learned Hand’s famous suggestion, which later grew into a mandate less variable than the laws of the Medes and the Persians, in Cohan v. Com’r, 39 F. 2d 540 (2 Cir, 1930), at pp. 543-544 is, my sources tell me, one of the ten most-cited decisions.

“Absolute certainty in such matters is usually impossible and is not necessary; the Board should make as close an approximation as it can, bearing heavily if it chooses upon the taxpayer whose inexactitude is of his own making.”

OK, Mr. Reilly, my unhallowed hands shall now disturb the sacred Sinaiatical pronouncement; the country’s probably done for anyway.

Judge Arundell at the Board (of Tax Appeals, Tax Court’s forebear) found some seven (count ’em, seven) issues upon which to rule. T&E, advertising, and excise taxes, which George M.’s inexactitude gave rise to the famous formula hereinabove set forth, is only one.

There was the famous family partnership between George and Mom, which both Judges Arundell and Hand blew off as an assignment of income. George’s attempt to characterize a gift of the cash generated from certain royalties as an assignment of the right to receive the royalties failed at least as to a one-third share.

George dropped some annuities, and the losses he took survived. George’s short year manoeuver worked. A loan to George M’s former business partner was just that, and not deductible.

But what about the remand? What did the Board allow George M. on the T&E, advertising and excise taxes? Mr. Reilly would like to know. But Google is silent.

The answer lies, I suspect, in the archives of the old B.T.A. But how to access them? Can the Tax Court Copycats work their three-buck magic?

Suggestions welcome.


In Uncategorized on 11/23/2022 at 15:49

I’ve probably discomposed as many electrons on the differences between discovery in United States Tax Court and discovery in the Article III courts with which most of my readers are familiar than on any other topic. And nowhere is the difference so great as in nonconsensual depositions. Rule 74(c) sets a very high bar for one seeking same.

Today, in Lakepont Land II, LLC, Lakepoint Land Group, LLC,  Tax Matters Partner, Docket No. 13925-17, filed 11/23/22, Judge Christian N. (“Speedy”) Weiler provides another vestpocket guide to the perplexed. Lakepoint wants to depose a couple IRS employees (hi, Judge Holmes) about whether they were offside on the Section 6751(b) Boss Hoss signoff. IRS wants summary J, Lakepoint wants obviously to stir up some questions of fact.

“Nonconsensual depositions are an extraordinary method of discovery that can only be taken pursuant to an order from our Court. These depositions are available only where a party or nonparty witness can give testimony that is discoverable within the meaning of Rule 70(b) and where such testimony practicably cannot be obtained through informal consultation or communication under Rule 70(a)(1), interrogatories under Rule 71, requests for production of documents under Rule 72, or consensual depositions under Rule 74(b). The decision to require an individual to submit to a nonconsensual discovery deposition is a matter that is solely within the discretion of the presiding judge. In addition to the essential criteria that the moving party must show under Rule 74(c), the Court weighs various factors to determine whether a particular case warrants an extraordinary discovery method. Order at pp. 2-3. (Citation omitted).

The factors are whether the movant has established a specific and compelling basis for the deposition; whether the movant intends the deposition to serve as more than a substitute for cross-examination at trial; and whether the movant has had prior opportunities to obtain the desired information or could obtain it through other means or from another source.

Judge Speedy Weiler seems to think that Lakepoint hasn’t tried every other door; Taishoff thinks that maybe IRS has been stonewalling a wee bit.

Judge Speedy Weiler says this is an attempt to substitute the depositions for cross-examination on the trial. Taishoff says if IRS gets summary J on the chops, what’s to try?

Depositions, consensual or not, are SOP in most courts. Yes, I know Our Fair State’s Civil Practice Law & Rules Section 408; a former associate in a firm in which I was a partner got gigged for hitting this speedbump in a special proceeding. But that’s strictly a one-off.

I know the rationale for Rule 74(c): depositions are expensive, the overwhelming number of Tax Court petitioners are self-represented, and most of their cases are indocumentados. And the defier-protesters would use depositions only to harass IRS personnel.

But the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t fit all. Big ticket cases with heavy-duty counsel for both sides should follow FRCP 30.


In Uncategorized on 11/23/2022 at 10:17

This from the United States Tax Court website: “In addition to observing the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday, November 24, 2022, the Court will be closed on Friday, November 25, 2022. DAWSON will remain available for electronic access and electronic filing.”

No rest for the electrons and microchips, as the Glasshouse Gang chows down and then heads off to the Black Friday sales.

I will, of course, stand mute throughout.

Best holiday wishes to all.


In Uncategorized on 11/22/2022 at 13:22

Yesterday was a busy day, so busy I missed blogging two (count ’em, two) Tax Court opinions. Here they are.

First, Elijah Servance and Corliss Servance, T. C. Sum. Op. 2022-23, filed 11/21/22. Elijah was workin’ on the railroad, our local commuterhauler MetroNorth. But Elijah fell ill and retired, after 33 years of faithful service. He was eligible for and received tier 1 railroad retirement benefits, which MetroNorth reported but Elijah didn’t.

It’s the old Reg. Section 1.104-1(b) physical injury. Yes, no doubt Elijah was disabled by illness; but the illness wasn’t job-related. The tier 1s weren’t in the nature of workers’ comp.

I note Judge Elizabeth A. (“Tex”) Copeland occasionally uses the correct formula “workers’ compensation,” rather than the obsolete “workmens’ compensation” as in the Reg. Time for Treasury to move their nomenclature into the Twentieth Century, if not the Twenty-First.

Elijah loses, but IRS also loses. The SNOD claims Elijah got $4K in “wages” from Hartford Insurance. Elijah and Corliss swear they didn’t. They did get some disability insurance payments from the Hartford in year at issue, but paid it back same year and introduces an e-mail chain to prove it. IRS objects as hearsay, but this case is a small-claimer, so it goes in.

And all IRS has for the “wages” is the Michael Corleone gambit.

“The notice of deficiency issued to the Servances purports that Hartford submitted a Form W–2 to the IRS reporting a payment of $4,406 to Mr. Servance in [year at issue]. However, respondent provided to this Court neither a copy of that Form W–2 nor any account transcripts or other evidence to that effect. And even if respondent had provided a copy of the Form W–2, that alone would not have satisfied respondent’s threshold burden regarding unreported income. Generally, when a third-party document simply contradicts (without any supporting evidence) a taxpayer’s assertion that he did not receive income, that document does not suffice for us to rely on the presumption of correctness normally afforded to a notice of deficiency.” T. C. Sum. Op. 2022-23, at p. 5. (Citation omitted).

And IRS folds the accuracy chops.

Bryant D. Tillman-Kelly and Melanie Tillman-Kelly, T. C. Memo. 2022-111, filed 11/21/22, is another Section 104, but the physical injury element is so attenuated that Judge Patrick J. (“Scholar Pat”) Urda need hardly detain us with “somber reasoning and copious citation of precedent.”

“In short, we return to the plain text of the settlement agreement that the payment was made for ‘alleged non-wage injuries, as non-economic emotional distress damages.’ This text is clear on its face, but even if there were some doubt, the nature of the state court litigation supports the conclusion that the dominant reason for the payment was to compensate for emotional distress and was altogether unrelated to physical injury.” T. C. Memo. 2022-111, at p. 7.

Bryant was a whistleblower who blew on his immediate superior to US Department of Education and his college’s ethics office. These worthies did nothing. His immediate superior, who, far from falling on his knees in abject repentance, made sure Bryant got the reward due the righteous: summary discharge. This resulted in a lawsuit and a $230K settlement of the abovementioned injuries.

Word to blowers: Before you blow, go over with your attorney exactly how to draft the complaint, tracking Section 104. And what to put in the settlement agreement and general release. Ditto.

And word to blowers’ counsel: Get the medical backup. Get all the documents right. Or you will get The Phone Call.


In Uncategorized on 11/21/2022 at 15:54

A year ago I pitched the idea of a sliding scale for Section 6673 frivolity chops. See my blogposts “Guidelines,” 8/12/21, and “Guidelines – Part Deux,” 12/22/21. As I pointed out in the latter, “(I)’m slightly surprised that no wit, wag, or wiseacre, mulcted in four figures for frivolity, doesn’t use the newly-enabled Orders search feature on the DAWSON site to accumulate a bunch orders (hi, Judge Holmes), chopping various petitioners in widely varying amounts for the same, or nearly the same, offenses, and thereby claim abuse of discretion, or excessive fines and penalties, when the chop descends upon them.”

I ordinarily wouldn’t waste time on a case like Peter Michael Budde & Kathryn Marie Budde, Docket No. 22954-21, filed 11/21/22. Especially so, because the new, improved, jim-handy (most affirmativo, ya betcha) DAWSON cybernetic schemozzle has it posted in a format whereby I cannot cut-and-paste Judge Nega’s prose from this off-the-bencher.

So read it for yourself, but it’s the old non-Federal income jive that has been exploded more times than I can count. Judge Nega warned Pete & Kat in a pretrial phoneathon that they were frivoling.

Notwithstanding the same, they frivoled on the trial.

So Judge Nega piles on $5K in Section 6673 chops over and above the Section 6651s that the electros chopped them, and the tax on the $142K Kat says isn’t taxable income, but Judge Nega says is.

Are frivolity chops somehow tied into the amount of unreported income? Or income reported but frivolously claimed to be exempt or excludable? Does a warning personally given (say in a phoneathon) but ignored draw a higher penalty than one given in an order in the current or a previous proceeding?

In short, there should be guidelines, lest one of the above-described wits, wags, or wiseacres file a FOIL and collate all the Tax Court opinions and orders to purport to show that the mulct with which he or she was hit was arbitrary and capricious.

I’ll say it again, should any have tuned in late. I’m not proposing legislation. Sentencing guidelines have been both praised and derided, and I’m not weighing in on that argument. Neither do I propose so to handcuff the Tax Court bench as to eliminate their often-commendable attempts to temper the wind to the shorn lamb, or even the Frenched rack of lamb just pulled from the oven.

But the protesters and dodgers are not lacking in imagination.

Ch J Kathleen (“TBS = The Big Shillelagh”) Kerrigan, please note.


In Uncategorized on 11/18/2022 at 17:38

No opinions and no orders worth my time or yours today. There is one, Colleen Madison & Brandon Madison, Docket No. 20183-22, filed 11/18/22. Colleen & Brandon want to go remote. Ch J Kathleen (“TBS = The Big Shillelagh”) Kerrigan denies their motion without prejudice, because Colleen & Brandon left blank paragraph 2 of the form of Motion to Proceed Remotely.

Since that paragraph states the reason or reasons why remote proceedings should be granted, it might be a good idea to add to it the words “You Cannot Leave This Space Blank.”

Otherwise, maybe the Motion to Proceed Remotely Form might become the new Ownership Disclosure Statement.