Court Cases: USA: Daniel Taylor Jenkins: Second Circuit Appeal:

Brief for Commissioner of Internal Revenue-Appellee:

Statement

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SECOND CIRCUIT

No. 05-4756-ag

DANIEL TAYLOR JENKINS,

Petitioner-Appellant

v.

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE,

Respondent-Appellee

ON APPEAL FROM THE DECISION OF THE UNITED STATES TAX COURT

BRIEF FOR THE APPELLEE

PRELIMINARY STATEMENT

The Tax Court's order and decision was entered by Judge James S. Halpern on March 3, 2005, and is not reported officially or unofficially.

JURISDICTIONAL STATEMENT

On October 23, 2003, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Office of Appeals mailed a Notice of Determination Concerning Collection Action(s) under Section 6320 and/or 6330 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (26 USC) (I.R.C.) to Daniel Taylor Jenkins (taxpayer), determining that it was appropriate to collect his unpaid federal income tax liability for 2001 by levy. (A. 18-21.)[1] Taxpayer had 30 days within which to file a petition in the Tax Court contesting the notice of determination. I.R.C. § 6330(d)(1). His petition seeking review of the notice (Doc. 1) was postmarked November 20, 2003, and was therefore timely under I.R.C. § 7502(a), even though it was received by the Tax Court on November 25, 2003. The Tax Court had jurisdiction over the petition under I.R.C. § 6330(d)(1)(A).

The Commissioner filed a motion for summary judgment and to impose sanctions under I.R.C. § 6673 on the grounds that the petition was filed primarily for the purpose of delay or that taxpayer's position in the petition was frivolous and groundless. (A. 9-14.) On March 3, 2005, the Tax Court (Judge James S. Halpern) granted the motion for summary judgment and entered a decision that the Commissioner could proceed with the collection action as determined in the notice of determination. (A. 43-48.) The Tax Court also granted the Commissioner's motion for sanctions, and imposed a penalty in the amount of $5,000. (A. 47-48.) The Tax Court's decision disposed of all claims of all parties and was therefore final and appealable.

On March 31, 2005, taxpayer filed a motion to vacate or revise the Tax Court decision, which was denied by imprint stamp on June 1, 2005. (A. 49-78, 80.) This motion stayed the time for appeal because it was filed within 30 days of the decision. Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 13(a)(2); Tax Court Rule 162. On August 24, 2005, within 90 days after disposition of the motion to vacate or revise, taxpayer filed a timely notice of appeal to this Court. (A. 81.) See I.R.C. § 7483; Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 13(a)(1). This Court has jurisdiction under I.R.C. § 7482(a)(1).

STATEMENT OF THE ISSUES

  1. Whether the Tax Court correctly granted summary judgment upholding the IRS's proposed collection action, where taxpayer's arguments were without merit, and where there were no facts in dispute.
  2. Whether the Tax Court properly imposed sanctions for raising frivolous or groundless arguments where the arguments advanced by taxpayer had no basis in law, and he had been so informed when he raised them in prior Tax Court litigation.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Taxpayer brought this case to contest the Commissioner's determination that a proposed levy action could proceed to collect the unpaid balance of his 2001 federal income tax liability. The Tax Court granted summary judgment for the Commissioner, and imposed a penalty for raising frivolous or groundless arguments. Taxpayer now appeals.

STATEMENT OF THE FACTS

Taxpayer filed a timely federal income tax return for 2001, on which he reported a tax due of $4,118.58. With his return, he submitted a payment for $1,842.58. (A. 20.) There were no credits or payments made from any other source towards his 2001 tax liability. (A. 20) Taxpayer attached a letter to his return indicating that the balance due was being held in escrow pending the opportunity to direct his tax payment to non-military government expenditures. (A. 20)

The Commissioner issued notices requesting taxpayer to pay the balance due for 2001. (A. 20) On May 16, 2003, the Commissioner issued to taxpayer a Final Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a Hearing. (A. 20, 22-23.) Taxpayer filed a request for a Collection Due Process (CDP) hearing. (A. 24-25.) On October 8, 2003, a telephone conference was held between taxpayer and an IRS settlement officer. (A. 16.) During the course of the CDP hearing, taxpayer expressed his desire to direct the remainder of his tax payment to non-military government expenditures, and he acknowledged that this would require a legislative remedy. (A. 20-21) Taxpayer also asked a question regarding calculation of the amount exempted from attachment by a notice of levy, and he accepted the settlement officer's explanation of this matter. (A. 21) On October 23, 2003, the IRS issued to taxpayer a notice of determination in which it determined that the proposed levy could proceed. (A. 18-21.) Taxpayer filed a timely petition for review in the Tax Court. (Doc. 1.)

The Commissioner filed a motion for summary judgment and to impose sanctions under I.R.C. § 6673. (A. 9-14.) The Commissioner asserted in his motion that taxpayer had previously filed a petition in the Tax Court with respect to his 1985 tax liability in which he claimed a credit with respect to his opposition to military expenditures by the federal government, and that he was on notice from the Tax Court's disposition of that case that such arguments were without merit. (A. 13.)

The Tax Court granted summary judgment for the Commissioner. (A. 43-48.) The Court held that there was no issue of fact, and that there was no merit to taxpayer's claim that the Constitution allowed him to retain his unpaid tax until such time as it could be directed to non-military expenditures. The Tax Court characterized taxpayer's claim as “representative of a class of arguments that have been universally rejected by this and other courts.” (A. 46.) The Tax Court also imposed a penalty of $5,000 under I.R.C. § 6673, based on its holding that taxpayer's position was frivolous within the meaning of the statute. (A. 47-48.) The Tax Court observed that “[n]ot only did petitioner's prior proceedings before this court serve to warn him that his arguments were without merit, the settlement officer who conducted the hearing also reminded petitioner of the possible sanctions he might face by petitioning this court.” (A. 47-48.)

Taxpayer now appeals.

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

Taxpayer brought suit to protest the IRS's attempt to levy to collect federal income tax he admits he owes, but which he refuses to pay because of his religious objection to funding the military. No court has ever ruled in favor of a taxpayer on this issue, and many courts have issued opinions rejecting the argument that taxpayers have a right to withhold taxes (or to claim tax deductions) on this basis under the United States Constitution or any other authority. This Court and others also have held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not provide those who object to war on religious grounds the right to withhold their taxes.

The Tax Court correctly granted summary judgment for the Commissioner, and, pursuant to I.R.C. § 6673(a)(1), imposed a $5,000 sanction against taxpayer for instituting proceedings in which his position was frivolous or groundless. The imposition of sanctions was not an abuse of the court's discretion, inasmuch as taxpayer made no new arguments below, but merely reiterated arguments that have been rejected by every court that has considered them, including the Tax Court in an earlier case brought by taxpayer. He was on notice from the court in that case that his arguments lacked merit, and, indeed, he acknowledged that new legislation would need to be enacted by Congress to provide the remedy he seeks. There are no special circumstances present here that should shield him from sanctions.

The Tax Court's decision is correct and should be affirmed.


  • [1] “A.” references are to the documents in the separately bound Appendix filed by Appellant. “Doc.” references are to the documents in the original record, as numbered by the Clerk of the Tax Court.