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McNeil v. Commissioner, Internal Revenue

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 12, 2016

ROBERT A. MCNEIL, Plaintiff
v.
COMMISSIONER, INTERNAL REVENUE, et al., Defendants

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY United States District Judge

Through this action, Plaintiff seeks to enjoin the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the Attorney General, officials of the IRS and the Department of Justice, and other related persons from taking certain enumerated actions regarding the collection of taxes. All of these actions pertain to activities undertaken by the IRS or the Department of Justice in circumstances in which a person does not file a tax return. Before the Court is the United States’ [4] Motion to Dismiss, filed on behalf of all of the defendants. Upon consideration of the pleadings, [1] the relevant legal authorities, and the record for purposes of this motion, the Court GRANTS Defendants’ [4] Motion to Dismiss. As explained further below, the Court concludes that it has no jurisdiction over this action in light of the Anti-Injunction Act. Therefore, the Court concludes that there is no need to reach Defendants’ other arguments in favor of dismissal. Furthermore, the Court concludes that there is no basis for Plaintiff’s [8] Motion to Resolve Fact Disputes. That motion is denied, as well, and this case is dismissed in its entirety.

I. BACKGROUND

The Court limits its presentation of the background to the key facts that are necessary for the Court’s resolution of the fundamental issue presented in the pending motion: whether the Court is deprived of jurisdiction over this action in light of the jurisdiction-stripping provision of the Anti-Injunction Act.

A. Statutory and Regulatory Scheme

Pursuant to Internal Revenue Code section 6020, “[i]f any person fails to make any return required by any internal revenue law or regulation made thereunder at the time prescribed therefor, or makes, willfully or otherwise, a false or fraudulent return, the Secretary [of the Treasury] shall make such return from his own knowledge and from such information as he can obtain through testimony or otherwise.” 26 U.S.C. § 6020(b)(1). Furthermore, “[a]ny return so made and subscribed by the Secretary shall be prima facie good and sufficient for all legal purposes.” Id. § 6020(b)(2). In other words, if a person fails to file a tax return, the Government is required to produce a substitute return on behalf of the taxpayer, and that return may be used for other tax-related purposes. See Byers v. C.I.R., 740 F.3d 668, 671 (D.C. Cir.), cert. denied, 135 S.Ct. 232, reh’g denied, 135 S.Ct. 887 (2014). Among other such purposes, substitute returns may be used for the assessment of deficiencies against the taxpayers. See Id . (“If a taxpayer fails to file a return, the IRS may create a substitute tax form under 26 U.S.C. § 6020(b) and file a notice of deficiency for the total amount it calculates as due.”).

The regulations promulgated by the Department of the Treasury further elaborate this scheme. Specifically, “[i]f no return is made, or if the return … does not show any tax, for the purpose of the definition ‘the amount shown as the tax by the taxpayer upon his return’ shall be considered as zero.” 26 C.F.R. § 301.6211-1(a). As a result, “if no deficiencies with respect to the tax have been assessed, or collected without assessment, and no rebates with respect to the tax have been made, the deficiency is the amount of the income tax imposed by subtitle A, the estate tax imposed by chapter 11, the gift tax imposed by chapter 12, or any excise tax imposed by chapter 41, 42, 43, or 44.” Id. In short, if no return has been filed, no deficiencies have already been assessed or collected, and no tax has been paid via a rebate, the amount of the deficiency- i.e., the amount owed by the taxpayer-is the amount of taxes due that is calculated by the IRS. The IRS performs this calculation by creating a substitute return under section 6020(b).

The applicable regulations further lay out the process for producing these substitute returns. The regulations provide that the IRS and its agents “may make the return by gathering information and making computations through electronic, automated or other means to make a determination of the taxpayer’s tax liability.” 26 C.F.R. § 301.6020-1(b)(1). The regulations then set out the parameters of the process for creating such a return:

(2) Form of the return. A document (or set of documents) signed by the Commissioner or other authorized Internal Revenue Officer or employee shall be a return for a person described in paragraph (b)(1) of this section if the document (or set of documents) identifies the taxpayer by name and taxpayer identification number, contains sufficient information from which to compute the taxpayer's tax liability, and purports to be a return. A Form 13496, “IRC Section 6020(b) Certification, ” or any other form that an authorized Internal Revenue Officer or employee signs and uses to identify a set of documents containing the information set forth in this paragraph as a section 6020(b) return, and the documents identified, constitute a return under section 6020(b). A return may be signed by the name or title of an Internal Revenue Officer or employee being handwritten, stamped, typed, printed or otherwise mechanically affixed to the return, so long as that name or title was placed on the document to signify that the Internal Revenue Officer or employee adopted the document as a return for the taxpayer. The document and signature may be in written or electronic form.

26 C.F.R. § 301.6020-1. Finally, as stated above, returns prepared in this manner by the IRS are “good and sufficient for all legal purposes.” 26 C.F.R. § 301.6020-1(b)(3).

B. Plaintiff’s Claims and Relief Sought

In his Complaint, Plaintiff essentially claims that the IRS falsifies records in the process of creating substitute returns and that the Government then uses the allegedly falsified records in taking legal action against Plaintiff and others. Plaintiff claims that the Government’s actions violate the Administrative Procedure Act (“A PA ”), 5 U.S.C. § 702, and the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court reserves any further presentation of facts underlying these claims, to the extent that they are material to the Court’s resolution of issues raised by the pending motion, for the discussion below. However, the Court presents in full the relief requested by Plaintiff through the Complaint, as it pertains directly to the legal question before the Court. Plaintiff requests that the Court:

74. Enjoin IRS from presuming, in any case involving 1040 income taxes, that a zero amount due was shown on an imaginary return pursuant to any regulation, including §301.6211, or making any other improper assumptions/presumptions concerning Plaintiff as justification for falsifying IRS internal records;
75. Enjoin the Commissioner, his representatives, agents, employees, attorneys, those persons in active concert or participation with ...

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