Wednesday, July 28, 2021

On Footnotes and the Demise of Appendix C from FTPB (7/28/21)

For the 2021 editions of my Federal Tax Procedure Book (Practitioner and Student editions), I decided the omit Appendix C where I digressed on footnotes.  I originally did that because footnotes in the Practitioner Editions are many and sometimes digressive in nature and wanted to add some humor on the subject.  I think the Appendix has outlived its use, if indeed it ever even had any use.  So, I am omitting the Appendix from the 2021 editions (which, I hope will be out in final by the end of next week.

I thought, however, that for those few misguided souls who liked such things, I would put the Appendix out here both in a cut and paste to the blog and a link to a pdf file, here.  (Those who review the pdf will see that the page number for the current working draft with Appendix C is 1,046, which will decrease to 1,043 when I strip this Appendix.)

APPENDIX C - ON FOOTNOTES

In earlier versions, I included as a footnote a long diversion on footnotes.  The diversion got out of control (certainly too many words).  Accordingly, since I was really liked the thought of a diversion on footnotes, I decided to offer the diversion as an Appendix at the end of the entire text, a destination not to be reached or easily ignored by many readers of the text.

In an earlier article, John A. Townsend, Judge Posner's Opinion in Kikalos, 108 Tax Notes 593 (Aug. 1, 2005), I had a footnote on footnotes and offer it here but have significantly revised it. I don’t bother to indent it to show that I am quoting):

It was reported in 1999 that Judge Posner had never used a footnote in a judicial opinion. Lawrence Lessig, The Prolific Iconoclast, The American Lawyer (December 1999). I have not attempted empirical research, but I don't recall having seen a footnote in his opinions. I surmise that Judge Posner thinks that, if the point is worthy of the distraction of a footnote, the point can be concisely made perhaps with less distraction in the text.  Other noted jurists such as Justice Breyer and Circuit Judge Abner Mikva also tend to avoid footnotes.  Justice Neil Gorsuch Is No 'Footnotephobe' (National Law Journal Supreme Court Brief 7/3/19).  And Justice Scalia claimed not to read footnotes, but certainly was not averse to authoring footnotes.  William Jay, Tribute: The Justice who said he hated writing (SCOTUSBlog 3/4/16).

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Primer on Contesting IRS Third Party Summonses (7/22/21)

In Gaetano v. United States, No. 20-2182, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 21139 (6th Cir. July 16, 2021) (unpublished), CA 6 here, the Court rejected the taxpayers’ petition to quash IRS summonses to third parties.  As an unpublished opinion, it has less precedential weight.  Still, it offers a good summary of established law regarding contesting summonses.  

General on the Summons (cleaned up):

In United States v. Powell [379 U.S. 48, 57-58 (1964)] the Supreme Court held that the government can establish a prima facie case for judicial enforcement of an investigatory summons by demonstrating [*3]  that (1) the investigation will be conducted pursuant to a legitimate purpose, (2) the inquiry may be relevant to the purpose, (3) the information sought is not already within the [IRS] Commissioner's possession, and (4) that the administrative steps required by the Internal Revenue Code have been followed.

            The government generally makes this prima facie showing for enforcement through the submission of the affidavit of the agent who issued the summons. If the government makes this showing, the burden shifts to the taxpayer to disprove any of the required elements or to demonstrate that enforcement of the summons would be an abuse of the court's process. n2  Such an abuse would take place if the summons had been issued for an improper purpose."  That said, a taxpayer must provide specific facts and evidence to meet the heavy burden necessary to demonstrate an abuse of process.
   n2 Where, as here, "the IRS issues a summons not to the investigated taxpayer herself, but to a third party who may possess records related to the taxpayer . . . , the named taxpayer is entitled to notice that the summons has been issued, and has the right to intervene in the summons-enforcement proceeding." Byers v. United States, IRS, 963 F.3d 548, 553 (6th Cir. 2020) (citation omitted). No matter whether the IRS issues the summons to the investigated taxpayer or a third party, "[t]he same standards apply." Ibid.

Relevance (cleaned up):

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

10th Circuit Rejects Constitutional Challenges to Passport Denial or Revocation for Seriously Delinquent Tax Debt ( 7/20/21)

In Maehr v. United States Dep't of State, ___ F.4th ___, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 21406 (10th Cir. July 20, 2021), CA 10 here, the Court rejected Maehr’s constitution attack on the 2015 FAST Act’s provisions for denying passport issuance and permitting revocation of previously issued passports.  § 7345; 22 U.S.C. § 2714a(e)(1), (2).

Maehr mounted a credible but ultimately unsuccessful claim that these provisions violated constitutional rights based on the right to international travel.  Basically, the Court held that there was no fundamental right to international travel and thus the review was limited to rational basis review which was easily passed because the Government has an interest in collecting taxes.

Monday, July 19, 2021

Magistrate Judge Recommends Enforcement of IRS Summons to Delaware Dept of Insurance for Information Filed by Micro-Captives (7/19/21)

In United States v. Del. Dep't of Ins., Civil Action No. 20-829-MN-CJB, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132716 (D. Del. July 16, 2021), here, the magistrate issued a Report and Recommendation that the IRS summons to the Delaware Department of  Insurance (“DDOI”) be enforced to compel production of documents related to “Artex Risk Solutions, Inc. (“Artex”), Tribeca Strategic Advisors, LLC (“Tribeca”) (which is owned by Artex) and others, in transactions involving micro-captive insurance plans.”  The summons “seeks information pertaining to approximately 200 insurance certificates of authority that DDOI issued to micro-captive insurance companies associated with Artex and Tribeca.”

Readers will recall that the routine for such petitions to enforce summons requires a rather minimal showing of need, called the Powell factors (United States v. Powell, 379 U.S. 48, 57-58 (1964)) as stated by the Court:

(1)  “that the investigation will be conducted pursuant to a legitimate purpose”; (2) “that the inquiry may be relevant to the purpose”; (3) “that the information sought is not already within the [IRS’] possession”; and (4) “that the administrative steps required by the Code have been followed.”

The Government handily met that Powell showing and DDOI failed to rebut it (as is usually the case for persons opposing IRS summonses).

The material dispute the Court resolved related to so-called reverse pre-emption.  The State insurance code provided secrecy protections to micro-captive insurance companies submitting documents and information to the DDOI.  Normally, the federal law permitting IRS summonses would pre-empt such a state law.  However, the McCarran-Ferguson Act (“MFA”) permits state statutes to trump federal law in certain circumstances.  The MFA reserves to the states the “regulation and taxation by the several States of the business of insurance.”  The statute, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1012(b), provides that

 (b) Federal regulation
No Act of Congress shall be construed to invalidate, impair, or supersede any law enacted by any State for the purpose of regulating the business of insurance, or which imposes a fee or tax upon such business, unless such Act specifically relates to the business of insurance: Provided, [t]hat . . . the Sherman Act, . . . the Clayton Act[] and . . . the Federal Trade Commission Act . . . shall be applicable to the business of insurance to the extent that such business is not regulated by State law.

The Court says (cleaned up):

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Does Treasury Comply with Administrative Law, Including the APA? I Say Yes. Others Say No. (7/17/21)

In United States v. Kahn, ___ F.3d ___, 2021 U.S. App. LEXIS 20622 (2d Cir. 7/13/21), here, the Court held that the FBAR willful penalty in 31 USC § 5321(a)(5), as amended in 2004 to increase the maximum amount of the penalty to 50% in the account(s), is not limited by the FINCen’s failure to update the underlying regulations (adopted in 1987) which, consistent with pre-2004 law, capped the willful penalty at $100,000.  This holding is currently the strong consensus.  I doubt there will be further aberrations on that issue. 

I generally discuss FBAR willful civil penalty issues principally on my Federal Tax Crimes Blog and did so in this case.  See Second Circuit Continues the Strong Consensus Rejecting the Argument that FINCen Regulations Under Pre-2004 Law Limit the Maximum Willful Penalty Prescribed under the 2004 Statutory Amendment (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 7/14/21), here.

I said in the Tax Crimes Blog posting that I might address Judge Menashi’s dissenting opinion which, in my view, is ideologically tinged repeating mantras in legal jargon that serve as proxies against the evils of the administrative state that play so well to the right.  Chevron is a chief bogeyman that Judge Menashi and other judges of similar bent use for the purpose.  Judge Menashi’s Wikipedia entry is here.

Judge Menashi’s analysis, in summary, is that an administrative agency, here FINCen with administration authority delegated to the IRS, should abide by its own regulations regardless of intervening changes in the statute.  Judge Menashi cites a rule called the Accardi principle (sometimes called a doctrine) after United States ex rel. Accardi v. Shaughnessy, 347 U.S. 260 (1954).  FINCen is part of Treasury, but a different part than the IRS.  That issue then permits Judge Menashi to launch into administrative law.

What set me off particularly about Judge Menashi’s dissent is that, although not relevant to his analysis, he repeats Professor Hickman’s claims about the IRS not following administrative law, including the APA.   Judge Menashi thus asserts (p. 3) “The Treasury Department has sometimes evaded standard administrative law principles when enforcing the tax laws” citing in footnote 3 Kristin E. Hickman, Administering the Tax System We Have, 63 Duke L.J. 1717, 1718 (2014) (describing “tax departures from general administrative-law norms”).  Readers of this Federal Tax Procedure blog will recognize that type of claim by Professor Hickman.  The Court of Appeals in CIC Servs., LLC v. IRS, 925 F.3d 247. 258 (6th Cir. 2019), reh. en banc den. 936 F.3d 501 (6th Cir. 2019), rev’d and remanded 583 U.S. ___, ___ S.Ct. ___, 2021 U.S. LEXIS 2585 (2021) quoted Professor Hickman and a colleague as claiming that Treasury and the IRS “do not have a great history of complying with APA procedures, having claimed for several decades that their rules and regulations are exempt from those requirements.”  The quote is from Kristin E. Hickman & Gerald Kerska, Restoring the Lost Anti-Injunction Act, 103 Va. L. Rev. 1683, 1686 (2017)).  Fortunately, in the Supreme Court in CIC Servs. the parties submitting briefs (including Professor Hickman as amicus curiae) did not repeat that claim, and the Supreme Court did not make the claim.  Perhaps they steered away from the claim prominently made by the Court of Appeals because the claim is irrelevant to the issue presented (just as it was in the Court of Appeals) and, in my view, the claim is not true.  (I synthesize my conclusions on this at the end of this blog.)  And the claim is not relevant to the issue resolved in Kahn, but despite the claim's irrelevance, Judge Menashi makes the claim.