United States District Court, District of Columbia
JEFFREY B. NIX EL, Plaintiff,
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, Defendant. Re Document No.: 6
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN
PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS,
GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST TO AMEND THE
COMPLAINT, TRANSFERRING CASE
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge
se plaintiff Jeffrey B. Nix El alleges that he has been
improperly denied income tax refunds for 2011 and 2014 and
seeks relief to the tune of more than $1.6 million in
damages. Defendant, the Internal Revenue Service
(“IRS”), moves to dismiss Mr. Nix El's
complaint on the grounds that, among other issues, venue is
improper. The Court agrees with Defendant that venue is
improper and transfers the case to the United States District
Court for the District of Maryland.
complaint, Mr. Nix El alleges that the IRS impermissibly
denied or rescinded his tax refunds for 2011 and 2014.
See generally Compl., ECF No. 1. With regard to the
2011 refund, Mr. Nix El claims that he submitted his 2011
amended tax return on December 9, 2014, but never received
the refund to which he was entitled. Compl. ¶ 5; see
also Pl.'s Ex. A. According to Mr. Nix El, he sent a
letter on August 18, 2015 to several employees at the IRS
inquiring about the status of his refund and received a
computer-generated acknowledgement, but no substantive
response. Compl. ¶¶ 5-6; see also
Pl.'s Ex. B.
the 2014 refund, Mr. Nix El contends that the refund was
electronically deposited into his bank account on June 19,
2015, but was “sent back” on July 1, 2015 by his
credit union without his consent based on instructions from
the IRS. Compl. ¶ 7. According to Mr. Nix El,
he sent a letter asking for information on his refund to the
IRS and several individuals,  but did not receive a reply.
See Compl. ¶ 7; see also Pl.'s Ex.
C. Mr. Nix El states that he separately received a letter
from the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax
Administration discussing an open investigation of IRS
employees for potential misconduct. Compl. ¶ 7.
Mr. Nix El states that he has received no further information
as to the progress or results of this investigation. Compl.
El filed the instant complaint on March 7, 2016, seeking
recovery under three causes of action: first, violations of
international treaties and the United States Constitution;
second, violations of IRS employee's oaths of office; and
third, breach of fiduciary duty. Compl. at 4-6. In his
complaint, Mr. Nix El requests “actual, compensatory,
and punitive damages” as well as injunctive relief.
See Compl. ¶ 1.
filed the instant motion to dismiss arguing, inter
alia, that venue is improper in this district and that
Mr. Nix El's claims are so flawed that this Court should
dismiss the case. See generally Mot. Dismiss, ECF
No. 6. On August 1, 2016, Mr. Nix El filed his Opposition to
Defendant's Motion to Dismiss, responding to
Defendant's arguments and claiming that he has presented
sufficiently stated claims in his complaint. See
generally Pl.'s Opp'n, ECF No. 8.
argues that the complaint is defective because the United
States, rather than the IRS, is the proper defendant for such
challenges to tax liability. The Court agrees. 26 U.S.C.
§ 7422 provides an avenue for filing civil suits for a
tax refund, but requires that such a suit “be
maintained only against the United States.” 26 U.S.C.
§ 7422(f)(1) (2012). This conclusion is supported by
other courts in this jurisdiction, which have concluded that
the United States is the proper defendant for civil actions
based on the unauthorized collection of taxes (26 U.S.C.
§ 7433) or the wrongful failure to release a tax lien
(26 U.S.C. § 7432). See Laukus v. United
States, 691 F.Supp.2d 119, 132 (D.D.C. 2010) (holding
that the United States, and not the IRS, is the proper
defendant for tax claims because the IRS cannot be sued
eo nomine [by that name]), aff'd, 442
F. App'x 570 (D.C. Cir. 2011). The Court thus concludes
that the United States, and not the IRS, is the proper
defendant of an action for a tax refund and for the
unauthorized collection of taxes (to the extent that
Plaintiff's claims about the removal of funds from his
bank account are characterized as such).
Mr. Nix El's original complaint names the IRS as the sole
defendant, Compl., Mr. Nix El's reply suggests amending
the complaint to add the United States as a
defendant.See Pl.'s Opp'n at 5
(“If it pleases the Court, the Complaint can be amended
to include: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue, United
States of America and the United States Attorney
General's Office.”). As the Court construes a
pro se plaintiff's filings leniently,
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007), the
Court interprets this as a request to amend the complaint to
name the United States as a defendant. A party may amend
its pleading with leave of the court, which the court
“should freely give . . . when justice so
requires.” Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 15(a)(2). Here, the Court
grants leave to amend the complaint to name the United States
as a defendant because such an amendment will serve the
interests of justice by allowing Mr. Nix El's claims to
be resolved more substantively and will not prejudice
Defendant because the proceedings are still at an early
addition to granting leave to amend, the Court will also
dismiss the claims against the IRS. Unlike the United States,
Congress has not waived the sovereign immunity of the IRS for
this type of suit and it is not a proper defendant. See
Laukus, 691 F.Supp.2d at 132; Spahr v. United
States, 501 F.Supp.2d 92, 96 (D.D.C. 2007) (noting that
the IRS's sovereign immunity has only been waived for a
very limited set of claims related to the collection
of income taxes, and not for any other purposes); see
also Blackmar v. Guerre, 342 U.S. 512, 514-15 (1952)
(stating that U.S. executive departments and agencies may
only be sued in their own name if authorized by Congress).
addressed the question of the proper defendant, the Court now
turns to Defendant's claims regarding venue. As Defendant
argues, the federal district courts are granted jurisdiction
over suits-like this one-for tax refunds by 28 U.S.C. §
The district courts shall have original jurisdiction . . .
of: (1) Any civil action against the United States for the
recovery of any internal-revenue tax alleged to have been
erroneously or illegally assessed or collected, or any
penalty claimed to have been collected without authority or
any sum alleged to have been ...