Articles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals

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26 U.S.C. 4251 imposes an excise tax on amounts paid for toll telephone service. Technological advances changed cost structures and, as a result, telephone companies began charging only by elapsed transmission time. The IRS, however, continued to collect the tax. Five courts of appeals, including this court, held that section 4251 did not permit the Service to tax telephone service with distance-invariant pricing. Around the same time, plaintiffs (Cohen, Sloan, and Gurrola) filed separate putative class-action suits challenging the tax. After Cohen and Sloan filed their complaint, the Service issued without notice and comment Notice 2006-50, declaring that the Service would no longer tax telephone service priced without regard to distance and established a procedure to refund illegally collected excise taxes. On appeal, plaintiffs challenged the district court's refusal to direct the Service on remand to issue a refund rule and from its denial of their interim request for fees. The court rejected plaintiffs' contention that the district court erred in vacating Notice 2006-50 and remanding, without specifically instructing the Service to promulgate a new refund procedure. Here, the only statutory failure was of notice and comment. Absent a statutory duty to promulgate a new rule, a court cannot order it. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying fees. The district court found the government's position to be substantially justified because several circuit judges agreed with the government and dissented from the Cohen I and Cohen II opinions. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "In re: Long-distance Telephone Service Federal Excise Tax Refund" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, three independent tax-return preparers, filed suit contending that the IRS's new regulations exceeded the agency's authority under the statute. At issue was whether the IRS's statutory authority to "regulate the practice of representatives of persons before the Department of the Treasury" encompassed authority to regulate tax-return preparers. In the court's judgment, the traditional tools of statutory interpretation - including the statute's text, history, structure, and context - foreclosed and rendered unreasonable the IRS's interpretation of 31 U.S.C. 330. Therefore, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court, agreeing that the IRS's statutory authority under Section 3303 could not be stretched so broadly as to encompass authority to regulate tax-return preparers. View "Loving, et al. v. IRS, et al." on Justia Law

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Appellant sought review of orders and decisions issued by the Tax Court affirming the IRS's decision to impose a levy on his property to collect overdue income taxes. Appellant raised several challenges emanating from an IRS Office of Appeals Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing which resulted in the contested levy. The court denied the IRS's motion to transfer this case to the Eighth Circuit; the court had no occasion to decide in this case whether a taxpayer who is seeking review of a CDP decision on a collection method may file in a court of appeals other than the D.C. Circuit if the parties have not stipulated to venue in another circuit; nothing in the record indicated that the CDP hearing was tainted by ex parte communications between the Settlement Officer and other IRS employees; appellant failed to timely raise his claim regarding the senior Tax Court judge's recusal; the Tax Court's dismissal of appellant's tax liability for the year 2003 was moot; and appellant's challenge to the notice of determination imposing the levy was rejected where the court had no grounds to overturn the IRS's levy determination in this case. Accordingly, the court affirmed the decisions of the Tax Court. View "Byers v. Commissioner of IRS" on Justia Law

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Appellants appealed the tax court's decision, holding that the period to assess taxes for tax year 1999 against Jack Gaughf and his wife remained open as of March 30, 2007, when the IRS issued a Notice of Final Partnership Administrative Adjustment (FPAA) to Gaughf Properties, L.P. The court affirmed the tax court's holding that (1) the Gaughfs' tax liability came within the unidentified partner exception to the general three-year statute of limitations under I.R.C. section 6229(e) because the Gaughfs were not identified as indirect partners to Gaughf Properties, L.P. in its 1999 return and (2) information identifying them as indirect partners was not otherwise timely furnished to the Secretary of the Treasury so as to trigger the one-year limitation period in I.R.C. section 6229(e). View "Gaughf Properties, L.P. v. Commissioner, IRS" on Justia Law

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Appellant traveled from South Korea to the United States and, while present in the United States, he gambled at slot machines frequently. The IRS contended that appellant must pay taxes on every winning pull at the slot machine and appellant disputed that interpretation pursuant to Tax Code 871, arguing that the IRS should calculate his winnings on at least a per-session basis. The court concluded that Section 871 allowed non-resident aliens, such as appellant, to calculate winnings or losses on a per-session basis. Accordingly, the court reversed the judgment of the Tax Court and remanded to the Tax Court so the parties could determine the proper amount of appellant's tax liability. View "Park, et al. v. Commissioner of IRS" on Justia Law

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Appellee sought a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of provisions of the Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act), 15 U.S.C. 375, that required him to pay state and local taxes and banned him from sending his products through the U.S. mail. The district court enjoined the enforcement of the tax provision on due process grounds, but otherwise dismissed appellee's claims. Both parties appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion by entering a preliminary injunction where appellee was likely to succeed on the merits on his due process challenge; the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining where the public interest lies; and the district court did not abuse its discretion when it concluded that appellee was likely to suffer irreparable harm and that the balance of the equities tipped in his favor. Further, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of appellee's remaining claims. View "Gordon v. Holder, Jr., et al." on Justia Law

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FTM applied to the IRS for a charitable tax exemption under I.R.C. 501(a) and (c)(3) based on its trustee services. FTM subsequently filed this action seeking a declaration that it was a tax exempt charitable organization after the IRS preliminarily denied it's application. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the government, agreeing with the district court that FTM was not operated exclusively for charitable purposes. View "Family Trust of MA, Inc. v. United States" on Justia Law

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Morpho, a California-based corporation that designs and builds explosives and other threat detection technology, contracted with the FAA on behalf of its then-newly established TSA, to supply its Explosive Detection System (EDS) to United States airports. Morpho subsequently sought an increase of the contract price to compensate for state assessments as "after-imposed taxes" pursuant to Clause 3.4.2-7(c) of the Acquisition Management System (AMS). The court denied Morpho's petition for review, agreeing with the TSA's rejection of Morpho's claim on the ground that the taxes at issue did not satisfy the after-imposed tax exception's precise terms. View "Morpho Detection, Inc. v. TSA" on Justia Law

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Appellants challenged the IRS's deficiency finding, as well as an accuracy-related penalty. On appeal, appellants argued that the Tax Court misunderstood relevant law when it affirmed the IRS's calculation of their remaining basis in their S corporation. They also challenged the factual basis for the Tax Court's decisions affirming the Service's rejection of their over-reporting claim and upholding its imposition of the penalty. The court rejected defendant's first challenge, concluding that a shareholder's basis was decreased "for any period" by the amount of that shareholder's pro rata share of the corporation's losses, and a shareholder incurred previously unabsorbed losses in the first year the shareholder had adequate basis to do so. In regards to the over-reporting claim, the court held that the Tax Court made no clear error when it upheld the IRS's determination not to reduce the sole proprietorship's income. Consequently, there was no dispute that appellants' 2003 tax return understated their taxes by an amount that qualified as substantial. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Barnes, et al v. Commissioner, IRS" on Justia Law

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This appeal stemmed from plaintiffs' suit against the government after the government alleged that plaintiffs failed to file adequate tax returns. The court understood plaintiffs' pro se appeal to contend that the government had waived the limitations defense by failing to raise it in its first dispositive motion. The court expressed no opinion on the government's jurisdictional argument and concluded instead that the government had not forfeited its limitations defense. The court also found plaintiffs' argument that the statute of limitations should have been tolled was without merit. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' complaint in its entirety. View "Kim, et al v. United States, et al" on Justia Law