Tuesday, March 23, 2021

DC Court Not Allow Challenge To Passport Denial Over Tax Debt

According to Law360, a D.C. federal court has dismissed the remaining claims in a man's suit challenging the federal government's denial of his passport application, finding that he failed to prove that the IRS improperly certified his tax debt as seriously delinquent.

The Internal Revenue Service correctly determined that Robert A. McNeil had seriously delinquent tax debts that caused the U.S. State Department to deny his passport application, and the agency wasn't required to notify McNeil before certifying his tax delinquency, according to the Thursday memorandum opinion.

"McNeil's argument concerning the notice requirement fails because even if notice was not effected here, it would not mean that the IRS' certification of his debt to the State Department was erroneous," the court said.

McNeil filed a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act  with the U.S. State Department in 2018 seeking records related to the government's rejection of his passport application based on the IRS' certification of his serious tax delinquency, according to court documents.

Following court proceedings that led to McNeil receiving a number of documents related to his FOIA request, McNeil amended his complaint against the State Department to include the IRS and add claims to his suit that the agency improperly determined and certified his tax debt.

The district court granted several motions for summary judgment in the government's favor that eliminated the FOIA claims made by McNeil, leaving the claims regarding the IRS' certification of his tax delinquency to be resolved, according to court documents.

McNeil argued that he was never made aware that the IRS had certified his tax debt and should have received notice from the agency, using two documents he received in his FOIA request as examples of records that could have provided that correspondence, according to court documents.

In its Thursday opinion, the court said that the IRS notice is only required under law to be sent contemporaneously, so it cannot be a prerequisite for the agency to certify a serious tax debt, the court said. And even if the notices were flawed, the law doesn't include a statute of limitations to challenge the certification of serious tax delinquency that would have prevented McNeil's suit, the opinion said.

McNeil also argued that the IRS assessed his tax debt unlawfully in his amended complaint, but that argument is impermissible under Internal Revenue Code Section 7345 , which only allows taxpayers to challenge the certification of serious tax delinquency, the court said in its opinion. Thus, McNeil failed to properly challenge aspects of the IRS' debt certification process, the court said.

"The court finds no support in § 7345 or anywhere else in the tax code for the notion that Congress wanted § 7345(e) to become a vehicle for challenging IRS procedures and tax assessments that cannot otherwise be challenged," the court said.

McNeil represented himself.

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