Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Bennett-Bey v. Shulman

March 3, 2010

FLOYD BENNETT-BEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DOUGLAS SHULMAN, COMMISSIONER, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Floyd Bennett-Bey filed this action against the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") for various forms of relief related to Bennett-Bey's tax liabilities. Defendant has moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction with respect to some of Bennett-Bey's claims, and because Bennett-Bey has otherwise failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, the Court shall grant Defendant's motion to dismiss.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In his Complaint, Floyd Bennett-Bey asserts that he is a "Moorish American Citizen, Beneficiary of the Great Moorish Estate Express Trust created by the trustor Nobel Drew Ali which [w]as executed May 10, 2000." Compl. at 3. Bennett-Bey alleges that "[s]imultaneous with that creation, the trustor (Noble Drew Ali) also founded the Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc." Id. Bennett-Bey alleges that the land in the Express Trust is a fee simple estate conveyed to Moorish Americans. Id. Bennett-Bey attached the alleged "deed of conveyance" as Exhibit 3 to his Complaint. See id. at 4-5, Ex. 3. According to Bennett-Bey, "[a]ll real property within the metes and bounds described in Section #7 of the Deed of Convency is (Express Trust Property) presently owned by the Moorish Science Temple of America, Inc." Id. at 6. Section 7 reads as follows: "Their domination and inhabitation extended from North-East and South-West Africa, across the great Atlantis even unto the present North, South and Central America and also Mexico and the Atlantis Islands; before the great earthquake, which caused the great Atlantic Ocean." Compl., Ex. 3 at 58. Bennett-Bey states that "[a]s a wakeful beneficiary, Sovereign people, Sovereign immunity and Sovereign rightsI am confident, my rights and interest are constitutionally protected." Compl. at 6-7.

Bennett-Bey contends that he has been corresponding with the IRS for more than ten years regarding his tax status and that there are "mis-understandings" about his status as a Moorish American citizen. Compl. at 2. Bennett-Bey states that his "exemption from Federal Income Tax obligation [sic] is not based on or found in the Federal Tax Codes." Id. at 3. On January 10, 2009, Bennett-Bey sent the IRS a letter apparently responding to a previous letter dated January 6, 2009. See Compl., Ex. 10 (1/10/2009 Letter from Bennett-Bey to T. Sisung, IRS Settlement Officer). The letter contains many assertions regarding the Express Trust and purports to include an offer in compromise. In a letter dated April 28, 2009, the IRS sent Bennett-Bey a "Notice of Determination Concerning Collection Action(s) Under Section 6320 and/or 6330." See Compl., Ex. 9 (4/28/2009 Notice). The notice of determination indicated that Bennett-Bey's had tax liabilities stemming from self-filed tax returns, a math error in 1999, lack of withholdings, and late filing and that a civil penalty was assessed for a frivolous return in 2004. See id. at 4. The notice states that a collection due process hearing was held via correspondence and that Bennett-Bey did not provide any non-frivolous responses or discuss ways to pay the taxes owed. Id. at 5. The notice further indicates that a Notice of Federal Tax Lien Filing (NFTL) was issued. Id. at 3, 6. The IRS indicated that it had determined that Bennett-Bey was not entitled to relief from the NFTL because he had proposed no acceptable collection alternatives. Id. at 2.

II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require that a complaint contain "'a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,' in order to 'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)); accord Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam). Although "detailed factual allegations" are not necessary to withstand a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, to provide the "grounds" of "entitle[ment] to relief," a plaintiff must furnish "more than labels and conclusions" or "a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action." Id. at 1964-65; see also Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986). Instead, a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, ___ U.S. ___, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009) (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).

In evaluating a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, the court must construe the complaint in a light most favorable to the plaintiff and must accept as true all reasonable factual inferences drawn from well-pleaded factual allegations. In re United Mine Workers of Am. Employee Benefit Plans Litig., 854 F. Supp. 914, 915 (D.D.C. 1994); see also Schuler v. United States, 617 F.2d 605, 608 (D.C. Cir. 1979) ("The complaint must be 'liberally construed in favor of the plaintiff,' who must be granted the benefit of all inferences that can be derived from the facts alleged."). However, as the Supreme Court recently made clear, a plaintiff must provide more than just "a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. at 1950. Where the well-pleaded facts set forth in the complaint do not permit a court, drawing on its judicial experience and common sense, to infer more than the "mere possibility of misconduct," the complaint has not shown that the pleader is entitled to relief. Id. at 1950.

On a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that the court has subject matter jurisdiction. Wright v. Foreign Serv. Grievance Bd., 503 F. Supp. 2d 163, 170 (D.D.C. 2007). "Although a court must accept as true all factual allegations contained in the complaint when reviewing a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), [a] plaintiff['s] factual allegations in the complaint . . . will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim." Id. (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

Where, as here, the action is brought by a pro se plaintiff, the Court must take particular care to construe the plaintiff's filings liberally, for such complaints are held "to less stringent standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers." Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520-21 (1972).

III. DISCUSSION

Bennett-Bey's Complaint, which he filed pro se, does not clearly delineate the various claims upon which he seeks relief. The Court notes that a nearly identical complaint was filed by Tanya Bennett-Bey*fn1 in another case in this district before Judge Richard W. Roberts. See Complaint, Bennett-Bey v. Schulman, No. 08-328 (D.D.C. filed Feb. 26, 2008). Judge Roberts construed the allegations in that complaint as asserting two claims for relief: (1) a refund of taxes that had been withheld from the plaintiff's salary; and (2) a religious exemption from paying taxes under the Free Exercise clause. See Bennett-Bey v. Schulman, No. 08-328, 2010 WL 320216, at *1-2 (D.D.C. Jan. 20, 2010). Pleadings filed pro se must be liberally construed, Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), and this Court agrees that Bennett-Bey appears to be alleging a claim for a tax refund and for a constitutional exemption from taxation. In addition, it appears that Bennett-Bey seeks to appeal a decision by the IRS issued under §§ 6320 and 6330 of the Internal Revenue Code. The Court shall address each of these claims below. Because it is clear that Bennett-Bey has sued Defendant based on actions taken by the United States, the Court shall grant Defendant's motion to substitute the United States as the proper defendant in this case. See 28 U.S.C. § 2679(d)(1).

A. Request for Tax Refund

Bennett-Bey's first apparent request for relief is to "[r]equire Defendant to return all Unlawfully [sic] debts collected since the execution of the Express Trust without the Plaintiff, Floyd Bennett-Bey having to submitt [sic] any forms requesting the return of unlawfully collected debts." Compl. at 8. This request is best construed as a request for a refund of income taxes withheld. See also Pl.'s Opp'n to Dismiss Compl., ΒΆ 4 ("The defendant claims of my requesting a refund and or suing for a refund is taken out of context because of the operation of law the I.R.S. had no right to remove funds from any of my accounts or change my tax status etc.") Defendant argues ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.