Attorney-at-Law

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TANNERY ROW – PART DEUX

In Uncategorized on 02/07/2019 at 15:35

Among other obscurities in the much-contemned Affordable Care Act is the tanning salon excise tax. The tax is imposed on, and collected from, the tanee, but is a trust fund in the hands of the tanor, and a penalty for nonpayment awaits the tanor’s responsible persons, just like FICA/FUTA/ITW. Nonpayment to the fisc calls down the same penalty.

Daniel James Humiston, 2019 T. C. Memo. 9, filed 2/7/19, is fighting a NOD based on an alleged failure of Section 6751(b) Boss Hossery. DJ was here before on this very issue; see my blogpost “Tannery Row,” 5/24/18.

Well, heeding Judge Holmes’ designated hitter from last May, IRS goes to trial, puts the RA who handled case on the stand, and proffers Form 4183. That suits Judge Buch just fine. He finds no abuse of discretion, though, so he needn’t decide whether the tanning salon mulct needs a 6751(b) benediction from on high.

DJ’s tannery was undergoing Ch 11 resuscitation, and he claimed he’d have enough to pay off the $200K when that was done, but he neither provided Appeals a list of the tannery’s assets nor a Form 433-A for himself. Nor was the tannery paying off the taxes.

That’s enough for Judge Buch. We must possess our souls in patience while we await resolution of the Boss Hoss – TFRP conundrum.

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NOT READY FOR A&E

In Uncategorized on 02/06/2019 at 17:02

Intervention may be great stuff for a TV series, but Judge Mark V Holmes isn’t ready to premiere David Marshall on behalf of Virginia Simpson, widow of the late Singleton (“Gerry”) Simpson, a/k/a “the estate,” stars of my blogpost “Settle Order on Notice – to the Nonparticipant,” 10/26/17.

The estate was an indirect partner in BCP Trading and Investments, LLC, William T. Esrey Trading Partners, LP, A Partner Other Than the Tax Matters Partner, et al., Docket No. 10200-08, filed 2/6/19. This case is almost as old as some Scotch I have. With Judge Holmes’ help,  IRS’ and BCP’s attorneys cobbled together a notice provision to let the estate (an indirect partner; apparently the late Gerry, with or without Miss Virginia, was a partner in BCP while he lived) object to the order and judgment after trial. Remember, when IRS and a partnership settle, any nonparticipant in the negotiated settlement gets sixty (count ‘em, sixty) days to object. But BCP and IRS litigated this one to a finish, without the estate in the ring, so the estate gets to object, Rule or no Rule.

The estate objects. The objection is based “… on the entirely reasonable ground that it had no idea what liability it faced under the proposed decision. As a result, we ordered the Commissioner to estimate the effect of the proposed decision on the estate to determine whether it wanted to object and seek intervention.” Order, at p. 2.

The estate moves to intervene, solely to preserve a SOL argument, the years at issue being even older than most of the aforesaid Scotch.

As usual, Tax Court Rule 245 doesn’t help, because this case was litigated to a decision, not stiped out. So FRCP 24 is called in, but before Judge Holmes can decide whether intervention is of right or permissive, the motion to intervene must be timely. IRS claims the estate blew the cut-off, but IRS agreed to BCP’s and Judge Holmes’ sixty-day time-out, so the Rule 248(b)(4) lash-up beats IRS’ Rule 245 freeze-out.

OK, all the estate wants is to preserve its SOL argument. If the SOL argument is a loser, there’s no reason to hold up entering the decision.

The estate claims they never signed the 872-Is and 872-IAs that extended the original SOL, only those long after the original SOL had run, and therefore the latter were invalid, as they extended nothing.

Nope, says Judge Holmes.

“So where does that leave the estate? It argues that, because the Simpsons signed their individual consents after the three-year assessment period for 2000 and 2001, the consents had no legal effect and did not extend the statute of limitations. However, this argument fails to acknowledge that the statute of limitations could be extended by either the Simpsons or BCP’s TMP. See § 6229(b)(1)(A)-(B). The estate’s incorporation by reference of the petitioners’ failed statute of limitations arguments challenging the validity of the TMP’s extensions preserves the argument for any appeal, but doesn’t help them here. Because we held that the extensions filed by BCP’s TMP were valid and bound both BCP’s direct and indirect partners, it follows that the estate, an indirect partner of BCP, is also bound by those extensions.” Order, at pp. 5-6.

So Judge Holmes isn’t permitting intervention.

“This in turn leads us to conclude that the TMP has adequately represented the estate by making the best of what was in the end an unsuccessful argument, which defeats intervention of right. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2). Intervention would also merely duplicate the TMP’s efforts at a very late stage in the case, which would serve only to further delay its conclusion.” Order, at p. 6 (citations omitted).

I wouldn’t blame Judge Holmes if he wanted to open that Scotch already. I can wait, though it’s sometimes a struggle.

If I were the estate, I’d appeal. If the client had the cash for a bond. And my fee.

 

“I LOVE MY CIGAR”

In Uncategorized on 02/06/2019 at 16:28

The often-quoted words of Julius Henry Marx describes the underpinning of STJ Diana L (“The Taxpayer’s Friend”) Leyden’s order in Anthony I. Provitola & Kathleen A. Provitola, et al., Docket No. 12357-16, filed 2/6/19.

It’s Anthony’s story. Anthony is a lawyer. Like most lawyers, your humble and obed’t serv’t included, Anthony loves summary J.

In fact, he loves it so much he tries it three (count ‘em, three) times, losing each and every time.

The problems are not unusual: “… whether petitioners engaged in the Schedule C activity with an actual and honest profit motive, whether petitioners actually incurred legal fees for the purposes of section 162, and whether the legal and professional services fees paid by petitioners were ordinary and necessary expenses.” Order, at p. 3.

Questions of fact, these.

“Summary judgment continues to not be appropriate in these cases. As the Court has concluded when it considered the three previously filed motions for summary judgment there still exists material questions of facts, namely whether petitioners engaged in the Schedule C activity with an actual and honest profit motive, whether petitioners actually incurred legal fees for the purposes of section 162, and whether the legal and professional services fees paid by petitioners were ordinary and necessary expenses. Neither the self-serving declaration of petitioner husband nor the stipulations of facts resolve any of these factual issues. Further, there is also a factual issue as to whether respondent obtained the required managerial approval under section 6571(b) with respect to the accuracy-related penalty imposed under section 6662(a) for 2013 and 2014.” Order, at p. 5.

So STJ Di suggests Anthony do as Julius Henry Marx suggested, and take it out once in a while.

“Petitioners are admonished that should they continue to pursue frivolous or groundless arguments before the Court or if they maintain these cases primarily for delay, they may be subject to penalties under section 6673 up to the amount of $25,000 in the future.” Order, at p. 5.

AT HOME ABROAD – THIS IS LONDON

In Uncategorized on 02/06/2019 at 15:15

You’d have to search youtube.com thoroughly, but those among us who yearn again to hear the nasal but compelling tones of Edward R. Murrow piercing the fog and blackout can again hear “This…is London.”

Well, who better to take up the cudgels for The City on the Thames than Tom Sawyer Abroad, that intrepid DOJ attorney who is determined to protect, preserve and defend international law and comity in Jonathan Zuhovitzky & Esther Zuhovitzky, Docket No. 3489-16, filed 2/6/19?

You remember Tom? What, no? Well, peruse my blogpost “Tom Sawyer, Tax Attorney,” 6/22/18. Sam Clemens would be proud of Tom, carrying on the tradition of his 1905 sequel.

It seems Jon’s bad back has gotten a wee bit better, but he still can’t get to the Land of the Free. And Tom Sawyer, Tax Attorney, filed a DOJ Statement of Interest, which has made an international incident out of Jon’s and Esther’s Berlin TV debut before Judge Vasquez.

It seems German sovereignty and goodwill between nations is on the line.

“In the Justice Department’s Statement of Interest Mr. Sawyer sought reconsideration of the Court’s… Order granting petitioners’ motion to permit contemporaneous testimony from Berlin, Germany. Mr. Sawyer argued that allowing remote testimony from Germany would violate principles of international comity. He further argued that petitioners had several alternative means of presenting their trial testimony without violating German sovereignty. One of these options would require petitioners to travel to and testify remotely from a common law country such as the United Kingdom.” Order, at p. 1.

But what about Jon’s bad back?

Well, maybe so it isn’t all that bad.

“…petitioners filed a response to the Justice Department’s Statement of Interest. Therein petitioners asked the Court to modify the…Order to allow petitioners to testify via contemporaneous transmission from London.” Order, at p. 1.

Magnanimously, Tom dropped his objection on behalf of the 320 million of us US citizens and Angie Merkel’s millions. IRS will work with Jon & Esther to facilitate their TV show. And all hands agree they can do the TV segment without ruffling any UK feathers.

With hard Brexit vs soft Brexit, I doubt Terry May or anyone else is going to crumble their crumpets over this one.

DO SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

In Uncategorized on 02/06/2019 at 14:48

Has The Judge with a Heart, STJ Rob’t N Armen, so soon forgotten the admonition he gave in my blogpost “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff,” 8/7/13?

Well, when it’s a partnership case, rather than a full-dress-T. C.-worthy international FICA kerfuffle, STJ Armen feels he has to sweat the small stuff.

Case in point is Pharmar Farms, LLC, Peter Flowers, Tax Matters Partner, Docket No. 9416-18S, filed 2/6/19. IRS wants a shutdown continuance, but can’t get hold of Pete to suss out whether he agrees. STJ Armen is inclined to go with the hold anyway, as the case has never been continued and it was only filed last Spring. Apparently a case hanging around for less than a year is a spring clichê in the Glasshouse, where ten-year-old cases are not uncommon.

But though the petition asks for small-case treatment, and references and attaches IRS notices, there is neither SNOD nor NOD to be found. Rather, pro se Pete has attached FPAAs for the two years he wants to place at issue.

IRS says nothing. I’m sure my learned readers have already picked up on the problem, but for those coming new to the post, I’ll let STJ Armen get a word in.

“…respondent does not, and has not since the filing of his Answer, questioned that this case qualifies as a ‘small tax case’ to be ’conducted under the small tax case procedures.’

“IRC section 7463 sets forth procedures governing certain types of disputes, most typically actions for redetermination involving deficiencies where the amount in dispute does not exceed $50,000. Subsection (f) of section 7463 specifies additional cases in which proceedings may be conducted under such section. Such additional cases do not include partnership cases. See Rule 170, Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure.

“Inasmuch as the present case appears to be a partnership case and not a deficiency case, it would not qualify as a ‘small tax case’ to be ‘conducted under small tax case procedures’. The Court’s February 25, 2019 Chicago, IL trial session is devoted to ‘small tax cases’, and the undersigned, who is assigned to conduct such session, is not authorized to decide partnership cases. See IRC 7443A(c).” Order, at p. 2. (Footnote omitted).

And let both sides show cause why this shouldn’t go on the regular docket.

Sometimes ya gotta sweat the small stuff.

THE ROLLING SHUTDOWN

In Uncategorized on 02/05/2019 at 16:23

As If One Wasn’t Bad Enough

That Obliging Jurist, Judge David Gustafson, is hardly a cheerful chap when it comes to divining the future of Tax Court and IRS funding.

Today he’s dealing with Cross Refined Coal, LLC, USA Refined Coal, LLC, Tax Matters Partner, Docket No. 19502-17, filed 2/5/19, and Cross is really cross. Pre-trial prep was in full swing going into December 2018 BS (Before Shutdown), but as the Great Hiatus loomed, IRS moved for continuance (that’s what we State courtiers call an adjournment). Cross objected.

True, Congress has funded operations through and including 2/15/19, but what happens after that is at best uncertain.

So Judge Gustafson tries to cover the bases.

“…respondent’s motion is denied without prejudice. Respondent may renew his motion after February 15, 2019. The Court advises the parties that it is inclined to adjust the pretrial schedule to account for respondent’s counsel’s furlough, and that it is willing to consider a trial date two or three weeks later than the current schedule. However, the trial in this case probably cannot be set to begin in September 2019, because numerous regular sessions will take place that month, and the Court is strongly disinclined to schedule a trial to take place after the end of the Government’s current fiscal year on September 30, 2019, when new funding issues might arise.” Order, at p. 1.

Judge, you said it. The Rolling Shutdown rolls on.

 

 

HEARING THE BAD NEWS

In Uncategorized on 02/05/2019 at 16:10

Robert C. Gunther and Jayne C. Gunther, 2019 T. C. Memo. 6, filed 2/5/19, have plenty of bad news to hear. Though collection of their partner-level deficiencies are enjoined pending the decision in their case, Tax Court cannot hear their claims concerning the 40% overvaluation and 20% accuracy chops. Those must wait for post-payment review.

As these chops aggregate around $850K, that will be an expensive hearing.

I again refer to Judge Holmes’ famous remark so long ago. Where does the taxpayer go to hear the bad news? See my blogpost “The Great Dissenter,” 12/28/11.

Bob and Jayne were in a phony currency swap partnership, which got blown away in USCFC. There follows the usual debate: must there be further partner-level determinations (opening the door to SNODS and deficiency proceedings), or does the partnership-level determination of the FPAA just generate arithmetic (computational).

As to the tax itself, even though the partnership was a sham, Bob and Jayne had some basis in the stock they sold, so that the exact amount thereof, and the exact tax due, needs to be figured. Of course, they had no Section 732(b) carryover basis from the sham partnership.

The chops are another story.

Judge Goeke explains.

“Section 6230(a)(1) provides that normal deficiency procedures generally do not apply to the assessment or collection of computational adjustments.  However, there is an exception where a computational adjustment is attributable to an affected item that requires partner-level determinations.  Sec. 6230(a)(2)(A)(i).  That exception applies to the tax liabilities in this case, which we have said require partner-level determinations.  However, the plain language of that exception renders it inapplicable to ‘penalties, additions to tax, and additional amounts that relate to adjustments to partnership items.’  Id.; see also sec. 301.6231(a)(6)-1(a)(3), Proced. & Admin. Regs.  Respondent urges that because there is no exception for penalties, the general rule applies and deficiency procedures are inapplicable.” 2019 T. C. Memo. 6, at pp. 11-12. (Citation omitted).

Bob and Jayne run for the Woods, claiming the Supremes said that penalties are provisional. They may be, says Judge Goeke, but that doesn’t confer jurisdiction on Tax Court to decide the impact on the several partners.

“…the Supreme Court does not make the same leap that petitioners do in this case–i.e., that the later imposition of the provisional penalties must be done under normal deficiency proceedings.  The Supreme Court only notes that ‘[e]ach partner remains free to raise, in subsequent, partner-level proceedings, any reasons why the penalty may not be imposed on him specifically.’  Under section 6230 the appropriate venue for partners to raise subsequent challenges to the imposition of penalties is in a postpayment refund action.  Sec. 6230(c)(4), (c)(1)(C); sec. 301.6221-1(c), Proced. & Admin. Regs.; see also Woods, 571 U.S. at 39 (‘[M]ost computational adjustments may be directly assessed against the partners, bypassing deficiency proceedings and permitting the partners to challenge the assessments only in post-payment refund actions.”). Thus, we find that we have no jurisdiction in this pre-payment forum to consider the penalties determined at the partnership level.” 2019 T. C. Memo. 6, at pp. 13-14.

Bob and Jayne claim no due process, but they have got a post-payment forum, so that’s not an issue.

That Jayne may claim innocent spousery is nothing to the point, as she didn’t raise that in her pleadings except as a conclusory statement.

So pay first and sue later, when it comes to TEFRA chops.

I’m looking forward to the one-size-fits-all PATH approach, where partnership and partners get sorted out all at once.

CDP CHECKLIST

In Uncategorized on 02/04/2019 at 17:54

I want to direct a Taishoff “Good Job” to the Houston TX law firm who represented John F. Campbell, 2019 T. C. Memo. 4, filed 2/4/19. John’s trusty attorney, whom I’ll herein designate as George, has given us a few items to add to our CDP checklist, in the “abuse of discretion” pages.

First, John set up a trust on the island of Nevis (I’ve been there; don’t miss the sugar train ride through the outback). He only gave $5 million of his $25 million net worth to the trust in the year he created it, never any more. John had to report the trust activities on his personal return, but he neither anticipated any benefit therefrom himself (only his family), nor controlled trust operations or investments, keeping his hand off the dollar while his eyes were on the scale (and telling the Trust Protector to fire an overbilling trustee and substitute another). But that was six (count ‘em, six) years before the year John got to Appeals.

John ran into trouble when he got involved in a CARDS transaction. I’ve blogged a couple those (hi, Judge Holmes), and IRS raised John’s taxable income for the year at issue from $200K to $13 million, blowing off the phony mix-and-match CARDS unrecognized gain from the recognized loss. Well, if you must, see my blogpost “House of CARDS,” 3/8/11, for the skinny on this dodge.

IRS gives John a NITL and a couple NFTLs (see above) at no extra charge. John sends in Letter 12153s for the whole shootin’ match. Appeals sustains, John petitions, but get remanded.

IRS claims John’s RCP is $1.5 million, John claims $12K, and wants OIC. Appeals again bounces John. Who petitions, and gets another remand to consider State law issues.  As with Nick Saban, if you get into real estate trouble, get into it in LA. John was rooked in some LA Gulf Opportunity Zone development deals, and got the double-schneid from Chinese drywall (the stuff oozed poison) and the Black 08.

Appeals bounces John yet again, claiming RCP of $19.5 million against John’s $12K.

Judge Kerrigan: “When a taxpayer submits an OIC based on doubt as to collectibility, the Appeals officer follows IRM guidelines to determine the taxpayer’s RCP.  IRM pt.5.8.4.3 (Jan. 18, 2018).  Those guidelines consist of determining: (1) assets, including dissipated assets, (2) future income, (3) amounts collectible from third parties, and (4) assets available to the taxpayer but beyond the reach of the Government.  Id. pt. 5.8.4.3.1 (Apr. 30, 2015).” Order, at p. 14.

Dissipated assets: “Petitioner was not given the opportunity to submit an OIC until after this Court remanded the CDP proceedings to the Appeals Office.  He submitted his OIC on March 28, 2014.  Accordingly, the Appeals officer should have looked only to 2012 for any dissipated assets.  However, under the IRM guidelines, she could have looked back to the assessment date, April 19, 2010, for any dissipated assets if there was a transfer of assets within the six months before or after the assessment date.” Order, at p. 15. But the AO looked all the way back to the trust in Nevis in 2004. Too long. Anyway, the transfer didn’t render John insolvent when made, and he didn’t know about the increased deficiency when he made it.

The Gulf Opportunity Zone deals weren’t dissipation. “Petitioner did not waste his wealth in an effort to deprive the Government or to shirk his financial obligation to the public fisc.  In 2006 petitioner made a substantial investment in the Gulf Coast region under the GO Zone legislation.  After making the investment, he still had cash on hand of more than $6 million.  He was unaware of the Chinese drywall issue that affected many of the properties he purchased through the LLCs and the looming financial crisis.  Respondent provides no consideration of these issues in the second supplemental notice of determination and instead asserts that petitioner wasted his wealth in an effort to establish a loss.  There is no indication in the record, and none was demonstrated at trial, that petitioner invested in the GO Zone in an attempt to avoid paying his 2001 tax liability.  We find that it was an abuse of discretion for respondent to make this determination.” Order, at pp. 17-18.

There’s a difference between trying to earn money and trying to dodge taxation.

Funds available to John on an alter ego theory. The trust was an irrevocable trust, over which John had no control. “The Supreme Court has stated that the transferee, nominee, or alter ego theory requires a two-part analysis, which looks first to State law to determine what rights a taxpayer has in property and then turns to Federal law to determine whether a taxpayer’s rights in that property qualify as property or rights to property under Federal tax law. Petitioner created the Trust in 2004 as an irrevocable grantor trust.  He and his family are named beneficiaries of the Trust.  Under section 671, petitioner is required to report all tax consequences of the Trust’s activities on his personal Federal tax return.  The Trust document indicates that petitioner has no control over the trustee and cannot force the trustee to make distributions or investments.  Petitioner contends that as a beneficiary of the Trust he does not hold a property interest in the Trust assets.” Order, at p. 19.

IRS tries to claim that the trust is an alter ego per CT law. IRS admits CT hasn’t yet definitively decided anything, but claims CT would follow Federal law. This founders on a USDCDCT case that specifically refuses to graft Federal law onto CT law.

While the trust did bankroll a buyback of some of the Gulf Opportunity Zone properties post-foreclosure, using LA’s debtor-friendly “litigious rights” laws, John didn’t control the trust and the trustee independently evaluated the deal.

The AO was arbitrary and capricious.

 

NON-VIRGIN AND NON-DEDUCTIBLE

In Uncategorized on 02/04/2019 at 16:14

Islander and SALT

Our Insolvent Islands in the Sun at least have yielded good blogfodder, if something less than economic development despite Congress’ abundant unguided largesse. But it looks like the last pareo is stripped away from Renee Vento, et al., 152 T. C. 1, filed 2/4/19, Judge Albert G (“Scholar Al”) Lauber entering IRS’ Rule 155 beancount.

Ya gotta give Renee’s and the als’ attorneys credit. They keep on going, like the advertising bunny.

I’ve blogged the Ventos’ tale, from Mom and Pop being accredited Virgins (Islanders) after 3 Cir said so, through the daughters’ abortive confab with the competent authority and their final expulsion from the VI, and I’ll leave it to my readers to go back. “My catalog is long. Through every passion ranging,” as a much finer versifier than I put it.

The Vento daughters had paid directly to VIBIR, claiming to be VI residents (which they later stiped they weren’t). Also, IRS took payments made by the Vento daughters to IRS, and “covered into,” that is, paid same to VIBIR per Section 7654. Finally, it was time for the Rule 155 beancount.

Except.

The Vento daughters claimed that the amounts paid and covered into VIBIR are State and local taxes (SALT, in contemporary jargon), and that issue was tried by consent, so that Rule 41 lets them amend their petition.

“In their briefs they had contended that both categories of payments addressed in the Court’s Opinion–the payments petitioners made to VIBIR directly and the payments ‘covered into’ VIBIR by the IRS–were payments of Virgin Islands tax eligible for credit under section 901.  In their computations for entry of decision they contended that both categories of payments constituted State or local taxes deductible under section 164.  In their motion for leave they contended that payments in the first category were deductible under section 164 and that payments in the second category should be credited dollar-for-dollar against their Federal income tax liabilities under section 31(a) (credit for tax withheld from wages) or otherwise.  Petitioners had not advanced this latter contention, which they urged ‘[a]s a protective measure,’ at any prior point in this litigation.” 152 T. C. 1, at p. 8.

As for their direct payments to VIBIR, the three-year lookback for overpayment refunds is long gone. As for the “covered into” money, there is a jurisdictional question.

“First, petitioners contended the amounts paid to VIBIR…, which our Opinion held did not constitute ‘taxes paid’ for purposes of section 901, nevertheless constituted State or local income taxes deductible under section 164(a)(3).  We based our conclusion that these amounts were not ‘taxes paid’ in part on the fact that petitioners had no legal obligation to pay Virgin Islands income tax….  In asserting that they should be allowed deductions for these payments as State or local taxes, petitioners were necessarily asserting that section 164(a)(3) allows deductions for payments that a taxpayer has no legal obligation to make.  That is unquestionably a ‘new issue’: Petitioners had not advanced this contention at any prior point in this litigation, and none of the parties addressed it, in any fashion, before the date on which petitioners filed their Rule 155 computations.

“Second, petitioners contended that the payments the IRS had ‘covered into’ VIBIR should be credited dollar-for-dollar against their Federal income tax liabilities.  This position contradicted the position petitioners had taken throughout this litigation, viz., that the amounts ‘covered into’ VIBIR constituted payments of Virgin Islands income tax eligible for foreign tax credits.

“Petitioners’ new position would require the Court to address at least two subsidiary legal questions, neither of which the parties addressed or even mentioned in their briefs.  The first would concern our jurisdiction to determine overpayments on the basis of the withholding and other credits petitioners now seek. The second question would be whether the payments ‘covered into’ VIBIR, once removed from petitioners’ …accounts, remained available to offset their… U.S. income tax liabilities.  In urging that petitioners’ motion for leave to amend petition was futile, respondent contended that the answer to this second question is ‘no.’  In so contending, respondent took a position resembling that which petitioners themselves had taken previously, i.e., that the payments, once ‘covered into’ VIBIR, became payments of Virgin Islands income tax.” 152 T. C. 1, at pp. 15-16. (Citations omitted).

But the Ventos aren’t finished yet. They want to introduce evidence as to “secret agreements” between IRS and VIBIR. But they originally moved under Rule 122, claiming they needed no evidence beyond what was already in the papers.

“We will accordingly deny petitioners’ motion to reopen the record and enter decisions consistent with the computations respondent has submitted.  Petitioners were free, when submitting these cases for decision under Rule 122, to urge alternative positions and alternative legal theories.  They did not do so.  This may have reflected oversight on their part, or it may have been a strategic choice prompted by fear of undercutting their primary position.  For whatever reason, they submitted only the FTC [Foreign Tax Credit] issue for decision, representing that all other issues in the case had been resolved.  The FTC issue was thus the only issue that the parties addressed and that we decided.  Petitioners cannot get a do-over by raising new issues in their Rule 155 computations.” 152 T. C. 1, at p. 18.

Judges Thornton and Halpern joust over whether the Rule 155 prohibition on raising anything but arithmetic is an absolute bar, or whether “interests of justice” might create an exception. But they agree on result. The Ventos are out.

AH, THAT SILT

In Uncategorized on 02/04/2019 at 12:38

Today we return to Hurford Investments No. 2, Ltd., Hurford Management No. 2, LLC, Tax Matters Partner, Docket No. 20317-11, filed 2/4/19, another good source of blogfodder. See my blogpost “You Just Can’t Win With TEFRA,” 12/21/18 BS (Before Shutdown), and my blogposts cited therein.

Now y’all recall that, although the Hurfords won, they didn’t prevail, and Judge Holmes disqualified their qualified offer even though the laundry list of cases prohibiting a Section 7430 qualified offer doesn’t include TEFRA FPAAs, which this case is.

Well, the Hurfords riposte that Fed Cir is fixing to deal with the BASR case, cited in my above-cited blogpost, so they want to hold off until Fed Cir has decided whether the qualified offer is allowed in a TEFRA FPAA.

IRS says that there are independent grounds for denying the Hurfords the admins and legals they’re claiming, so it’s dubious Fed Cir will deal with those, hence waiting on Fed Cir doesn’t help resolve this motion.

Judge Holmes agrees with IRS, and tells both sides to “settle order on notice.” See my blogpost thus entitled if you don’t know what that means.

But Judge Holmes has had his pate whanged by the Pelicans (appellate courts are sometimes thus described) before now, so he pays them obeisance.

“…there is much to be said for the efficiency of waiting for a higher court to rule — this division of the Court being especially aware of the definition of the law as a prediction of what an appellate court says it is….” Order, at p. 1.

Still, no go for the Hurfords.

I understand Judge Holmes wants to clear his docket, and this is a quick way to do it. Even more to the point, TEFRA has gone the way of all clichés, so any judicial ruling on “When TEFRA meets Section 7430” can only affect a limited, minuscule number of litigants. And the Hurfords likely can afford an appeal, since with no tax due they needn’t post a bond.

So while Judge Holmes has solved one problem, I must remind him of his celebrated remark in Thompson: “The silt we stir today will cloud the cases we plunge into tomorrow.” 137 T. C. 17 (2011), at p. 61. However few such cases may be.