United States District Court, District of Columbia
MICHAEL B. ELLIS et al., Plaintiffs,
AMY BERMAN JACKSON et al., Defendants.
TIMOTHY J. KELLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiffs Michael Ellis, Robert McNeil, and
Harold Stanley's Motion for Reconsideration of this
Court's June 19, 2018 Opinion adopting the Report and
Recommendation of Magistrate Judge G. Michael Harvey and
dismissing this case, ECF No. 27 (“Reconsideration
Mot.”). Plaintiffs purport to identify fourteen
errors in the Court's opinion dismissing one of
Plaintiffs' attempts to enjoin the federal
government's enforcement of the income tax against
individuals who do not file their returns. The Court assumes
familiarity with the factual and procedural background of
this case. For the reasons explained below, Plaintiffs'
motion will be denied.
may grant a Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend a judgment
“under three circumstances only: (1) if there is an
‘intervening change of controlling law'; (2) if new
evidence becomes available; or (3) if the judgment should be
amended in order to ‘correct a clear error or prevent
manifest injustice.'” Leidos, Inc. v. Hellenic
Republic, 881 F.3d 213, 217 (D.C. Cir. 2018) (quoting
Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1208 (D.C.
Cir. 1996) (per curiam)). Rule 59(e) motions “are
disfavored and should be granted only under extraordinary
circumstances.” Sieverding v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 910 F.Supp.2d 149, 160 (D.D.C. 2012) (quotation
omitted). Parties may not use Rule 59(e) motions to
relitigate arguments that were made or could have been made
before entry of judgment. See Exxon Shipping Co. v.
Baker, 554 U.S. 471, 485 n.5 (2008).
do not argue that there has been any intervening change in
law or newly discovered facts since the Court's dismissal
of their case, and none of the alleged errors they identify
are clear errors (or, in fact, errors at all) warranting
reconsideration. The Court addresses each allegation below.
Alleged Error 1: “Unsupported
object to the Court's characterization of Plaintiffs as
“non-filers” who do not file their tax returns.
Reconsideration Mot. at 6-7. But Plaintiffs admit that they
do not file tax returns; that is the entire basis for their
suit. See Stanley v. Lynch, 17-cv-22, ECF No. 1
¶¶ 32-36; Ellis v. Jackson, 16-cv-2313,
ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 11-12, 19, 100-02. The Court did not
err by accurately describing them.
Alleged Errors 2 and 9: Administrative Procedure Act
argue that the Court failed to adjudicate their claims under
the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Reconsideration Mot.
at 7, 14-15. Their misunderstanding appears to stem from the
Court's correct citation of the APA as 5 U.S.C. §
551 et seq., while Plaintiffs invoke, instead, its
judicial review provision at 5 U.S.C. § 702. Citation
quibbles aside, the Court properly considered Plaintiffs'
claims of APA violations and dismissed them for the reasons
outlined in its June 19, 2018 Opinion. See generally
ECF No. 26 (“Opinion”). That Plaintiffs can point
to a statutory cause of action does not entitle them to have
their claims adjudicated on the merits; they must first
present a justiciable case or controversy.
Alleged Error 3: “Inferences” vs.
object to the Court's characterization of the relief they
seek as a declaratory judgment that Congress has not imposed
a duty on Americans to file income tax returns. See
Reconsideration Mot. at 8. Rather, they claim, they asked the
Court to make various “inferences” that
non-filers do not have a duty to file returns or pay income
tax. Id. This is a semantic distinction without a
difference. An “inference” is not a recognized
form of legal or equitable relief, and Plaintiffs seek
declarations concerning their rights under 28 U.S.C. §
2201. The Court did not err in characterizing their request
for relief as it did.
Alleged Errors 4-7: The Anti-Injunction Act
object in various ways to the Court's conclusion that the
Anti-Injunction Act (AIA), 26 U.S.C. § 7421(a), bars
consideration of their suit. First, they argue that the AIA
does not apply because no “disputed tax sums” are
in controversy. Reconsideration Mot. at 9. But the entire
purpose of Plaintiffs' suit is to prevent the IRS from
assessing income tax against non-filers, and it is thus
squarely a “suit for the purpose of restraining the
assessment or collection” of a tax. 26 U.S.C. §
7421(a). That Plaintiffs may not have identified a specific
dollar amount in controversy is of no moment. Next, they
argue that the Court's analysis was insufficient because
it failed to explicitly determine that “falsifying
digital and paper documents upon which [the] IRS builds [its]
justification for criminal prosecutions and civil
forfeitures” constitutes an “assessment” or
“collection” under the AIA. Reconsideration Mot.
at 10-11. But the Court need not engage with the substance of
Plaintiffs' conspiratorial allegations to determine that
their suit attempts to restrain the collection of a tax.
Finally, Plaintiffs argue that the IRS's conduct is
criminal and therefore contrary to law ...