Articles Posted in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

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The government appeals the bankruptcy court's decision regarding the interest due from defendant for the taxable year 1998. In this case, the tax court never reached the issue of defendant's interest owed on the 1998 tax deficiency. Therefore, the bankruptcy court erred in deferring to the tax court for its calculation of the interest on defendant's underpayment for 1998. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment affirming the bankruptcy court. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "United States v. Beane" on Justia Law

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Petitioner seeks review of the Commissioner's determination that he owes income tax deficiencies and related penalties for 2004, 2005, and 2006. Petitioner was the president, director, and sole shareholder of a Florida “S” corporation called Paragon Homes Corporation. I.R.C. 165(a) allows a deduction for “any loss sustained during the taxable year and not compensated for by insurance or otherwise.” The court concluded that the tax court did not clearly err in determining that Paragon did not abandon the properties at issue in 2008, and that the evidence amply supports this finding, along with the finding that the properties were not worthless to Paragon at the end of 2008. Accordingly, the court concluded that the tax court properly determined that petitioner had not met his burden of demonstrating that the Commissioner’s disallowance of the section 165(a) loss deduction was incorrect. The court affirmed the tax court's decision. View "Tucker v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the United States for unpaid federal income taxes, late penalties, and interest accrued, arguing that the district court erred because her affidavit created a genuine factual dispute about whether she had paid the taxes and penalties owed. Reviewing de novo, the court concluded that the district court did not err by entering summary judgment in favor of the United States where the United States submitted copies of defendant's federal tax returns, transcripts of her accounts for tax years 1996 and 1999 through 2002, and an affidavit from an IRS officer that established defendant had outstanding tax assessments. In this case, the evidence created a presumption that the assessments were proper and shifted the burden to defendant to rebut the presumption with evidence that the assessments were erroneous. The court concluded that defendant's affidavit failed to create a genuine factual dispute about the validity of the assessments, and defendant's general and self-serving assertions that she paid the taxes owed and related late penalties for tax years 1996 and 1999 through 2002 failed to rebut the presumption established by the assessments. The court vacated the part of the judgment addressing the amount of defendant's assessments and remanded for the district court to credit her payment and to recalculate her assessment for tax year 1996. The court affirmed the entry of summary judgment regarding defendant's liability. View "United States v. Stein" on Justia Law

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The United States appeals the district court’s determination that commissions claimed by Defendant F. Gordon Spoor as personal representative of the Louise P. Gallagher Estate and as trustee of the Louise Paxton Gallagher Revocable Trust have priority over a special deferred estate tax lien on property designated by agreement under I.R.C. 6324A. The court agreed with the United States that special estate tax liens on property designated by section 6324A, unlike estate tax liens on the gross estate pursuant to section 6324, are not subject to an executor’s claims for administrative expenses. The court also held that Spoor’s administrative expenses do not take priority over income tax liens imposed pursuant to section 6321. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "United States v. Spoor" on Justia Law

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Petitioners challenge the Tax Court's decision sustaining the Commissioner's determination of deficiencies in petitioners' 2007 income tax return due to an improper characterization of income from the sale of property as a capital gain rather than as ordinary business income. The Tax Court also imposed a 20% penalty for substantial understatement of income under I.R.C. 6662. The court concluded that the Tax Court correctly determined that petitioners were liable for the deficiency and affirmed as to this issue. However, the court found clear error in the Tax Court’s determination that petitioners failed to establish that they acted with reasonable cause and in good faith. In this case, there is no indication in the record that petitioners withheld any information from their accountant, and the Commissioner conceded at oral argument that petitioners did not provide any false information. Accordingly, the court reversed the Tax Court’s assessment of the substantial understatement of income tax penalty. View "Boree v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

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The Commissioner appealed the tax court's judgment in favor of the Estate and the Government of the United States Virgin Islands. In 2010, the IRS issued notices of deficiency to Travis L. Sanders, before his death in 2012, alleging that he had not been a bona fide USVI resident during those years and that Madison, a USVI-based consulting firm that Sanders was a limited partner in, was an illegal tax shelter. Because Sanders was not a bona fide USVI resident, the Commissioner claims, Sanders was required to file tax returns with the IRS and was not entitled to the Economic Development Program (EDP) tax reduction. The court held that the statute of limitations was triggered only if Sanders actually was a bona fide resident of the USVI; in this case, the facts relied on by the tax court are insufficient to establish that Sanders ever became a bona fide resident of the USVI; and thus the court vacated the tax court's judgment. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Commissioner v. Estate of Travis L. Sanders" on Justia Law

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After the IRS assessed Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (“TFRP”) taxes against Ashley Scott for quarters covering a certain period, she filed suit seeking a refund of the $300 she paid for taxes owed and seeking an adjudication that she was not responsible or if she were deemed the responsible person, contribution from other responsible persons. Scott worked for her father’s business beginning shortly after her graduation from high school in 1995 until its closing in 2008. Within the company, Scott’s role was very limited. She did not make financial decisions or authorize the payment of any bills to vendors or creditors; she did not open or close bank accounts, or otherwise perform banking functions; she did not guarantee or co-sign loans; and she did not hire or fire employees. She wrote checks when directed to by her father, to buy office supplies, or to give herself advances on her salary. Principally at issue on appeal is whether Scott is a “responsible person” under 26 U.S.C. 6672. The district court granted partial summary judgment for the Government, holding that Scott was a responsible person. The court held that this case is too close to be decided on summary judgment where there are genuine issues of material fact relevant to whether Scott was a responsible person under section 6672. Therefore, the court vacated and remanded as to this issue. The court rejected Scott's arguments as to the willfulness issue and affirmed as to this issue. View "Scott v. US Dept. of Treasury" on Justia Law

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Christine C. Peterson and Roger V. Peterson challenged the tax court's determination that deferred compensation payments under corporate plans made after Christine's retirement from Mary Kay, Inc. in tax year 2009 were derived from her former Mary Kay association, making them subject to self-employment tax. The court held that the percentage commissions received by Christine, a retired National Sales Director, under the Family Program and Futures Program are subject to self-employment tax, because they are classified specifically as deferred compensation, derived from her prior association with Mary Kay. Because the Petersons did not pay the self-employment tax Christine owed for her 2009 commission payments from two post-retirement, deferred-compensation programs, the Family Program and Futures Program, “the tax court did not err in upholding the additional tax imposed by the IRS,” including interest and penalties. Therefore, the appeal from the decision of the tax court upholding Christine’s self-employment tax for 2009, Appeal No. 14-15774, is affirmed. The consolidated appeal from the decision of the Tax Court relating to tax years 2006 and 2007, Appeal No. 14-15773, is dismissed as improperly filed. View "Peterson v. Commissioner" on Justia Law

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On remand from the Supreme Court, these consolidated appeals challenge six actions brought by the district court to enforce summonses issued by the IRS in an investigation of DHLP and Beekman. The court remanded the case to the district court to determine whether defendants’ allegations of improper purpose were improper as a matter of law or sufficiently supported under United States v. Clarke to require a hearing. The district court enforced the summonses, finding that defendants neither alleged improper motives as a matter of law nor met their burden under Clarke. The court concluded that issuing a summons for the sole purpose of retaliation against a taxpayer would be improper as a matter of law; issuing summons in bad faith for the sole purpose of circumventing tax court discovery would be an improper purpose as a matter of law; the district court's decision not to hold a status conference or permit additional evidence is appropriate in light of the summary nature of a summons enforcement proceeding; and, although the district court erred in finding that the allegations set forth by defendants could not constitute an improper purpose as a matter of law, the district court correctly found that defendants failed to meet their burden under Clarke. Clarke permits a taxpayer challenging the enforcement of a summons “to examine an IRS agent when he can point to specific facts or circumstances plausibly raising an inference of bad faith.” In this case, defendants' submissions suggest that the summonses were issued in bad faith anticipation of tax court proceedings rather than in furtherance of Agent Fierfelder’s investigation. Conjecture and bare allegations of improper purpose are insufficient as a matter of law. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "United States v. Clarke" on Justia Law

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The IRS sent petitioner a Letter 1153 (notice of proposed assessment) informing her that, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 6672(a), she - as the chief operating officer of NPRN - was personally responsible for the company’s unpaid trust fund taxes for the second quarter of 2005. The IRS then made an assessment against her in the amount of $346,732.38. The court held that a taxpayer is entitled to a pre-assessment administrative determination by the IRS of her proposed liability for trust fund taxes if she files a timely protest. Therefore, in this case, the IRS erred by not making such a determination for petitioner after she filed a timely protest. The court vacated the judgment of the tax court and remanded so that it can address whether the IRS’ error, under the circumstances, is harmless or requires setting aside the 2007 assessment (or some lesser form of corrective action). View "Romano-Murphy v. Commissioner of IRS" on Justia Law