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United States v. Mayer

United States District Court, D. Delaware

August 3, 2018

JAMES R. MAYER, Defendant.

          Nelson Wagner, Trial Attorney, United States Department of Justice, Tax Division, Washington, D.C.; Counsel for Plaintiff.

          James R. Mayer, New Castle, Delaware; Pro Se Defendant.



         Plaintiff, the United States of America, commenced this action to collect unpaid federal income tax and statutory additions to tax owed by Defendant James R. Mayer. (D.l. 1). Defendant proceeds prose. Plaintiff moves for summary judgment. (D.l. 16). A briefing schedule was entered, but Defendant did not file an opposition to the motion. (See D.l. 17). Therefore, briefing on the matter is complete.


         Defendant did not file a return for the 2003 tax year by the April 15, 2004 deadline. (D.l. 16-1 at 3). Plaintiff submitted a certified copy of assessments and payments relating to the 2003 tax year. (Id. at 2-17). On November 17, 2005, the Internal Revenue Service prepared a substitute for the 2003 tax return, and the IRS sent Defendant a statutory notice of deficiency on February 21, 2006. (Id.) On August 7, 2006, the IRS assessed tax owed of $25, 937, plus interest and penalties for failure to file a return or pay the amount due. Id.

         The IRS sent several delinquency notices to Defendant. Notices of balance due were sent on August 7, 2006, September 11, 2006, and October 16, 2006. (Id. at 15). On November 20, 2006, the IRS sent Defendant a notice of intent to levy. (Id.].On February 22, 2007, Defendant filed a signed tax return claiming tax owed of $16, 363. (Id. at 19-23). The IRS acknowledged receipt of the 2003 tax return, advised Defendant there was an error on the return, and informed Defendant that his income should be reported as non-employee compensation as opposed to employee compensation. (Id. at 25). On May 10, 2007, Defendant submitted an amended return and reported tax due of $25, 867:07. (Id. at 27-28). The IRS accepted the return and abated the difference of $69.93 between its prior assessment and Defendant's amended return. (Id. at 4).

         Plaintiff commenced this action on July 25, 2016. (D.I. 1). When Defendant did not timely answer or otherwise appear, default was entered, and Plaintiff moved for default judgment. (D.I. 7). According to IRS records, as of December 14, 2015, Defendant owed income tax assessments totaling $27, 354.97, the amount including unpaid tax, penalties, and interest. (D.I. 7-1 at 1-2). Defendant's Answer to the Complaint raises two affirmative defenses: (1) his tax liability was discharged by bankruptcy; and (2) the suit is time-barred by the ten-year statute of limitations. (D.I. 14).

         Plaintiff moves for summary judgment on the grounds that: (1) Defendant does not dispute the amount of tax owed; and (2) Defendant's affirmative defenses fail as a matter of law.


         "The court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). When determining whether a genuine issue of material fact exists, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all reasonable inferences in that party's favor. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372, 380 (2007); Wishkin v. Potter, 476 F.3d 180, 184 (3d Cir. 2007). A dispute is "genuine" only if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 247-49 (1986). The Court will not grant the entry of summary judgment without considering the merits of Plaintiff's unopposed motion. See Stackhouse v. Mazurkiewicz, 951 F.2d 29, 30 (3d Cir. 1991) (district court should not have granted summary judgment solely on the basis that a motion for summary judgment was not opposed).


         Defendant does not contest or challenge the calculation of tax owed. "Once the IRS assesses a tax, a rebuttable presumption arises that the assessment is correct." Brounstein v. United States, 979 F.2d 952, 954 (3d Cir. 1992) (citing Psaty v. United States, 442 F.2d 1154, 1160 (3d Cir. 1971)). The introduction of a certified copy of assessments and payments shifts the burden to the taxpayer to show that the assessment is incorrect. Brounstein, 979 F.2d at 1160.

         The evidence of record includes certified copies from the IRS showing the dates and amounts of assessments, payments, credits, and other actions relating to tax year 2003. (D.I. 16-1 at 2-17). Therefore, Plaintiff met its burden and has made a prima facie case that the assessment is correct. The burden shifted to Defendant to ...

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