The Tax Court ruled in Warren Keith Jackson and Barbara Ann Jackson v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue, T.C. Memo 2022-50, filed May 12, 2022 that it is not an abuse of discretion for IRS Appeals to sustain a proposed levy and deny a proposal of an installment agreement for a taxpayer that has failed to make required estimated tax payments. Taxpayers timely filed and failed to pay multiple years of 1040 income tax liabilities that totaled $128,095 as of 2018. Taxpayers submitted a proposal for an installment agreement. A field Revenue Officer rejected the proposal of $556 per month for the installment agreement and cited that the taxpayers had “sufficient cash or equity in assets to fully or partially pay the balance owed.” Further, that rejection stated that taxpayers needed to make estimated tax payments to qualify for an installment agreement. Given the amount of the debt and monthly proposal, this was a Partial Payment Installment Agreement which requires the IRS to address equity prior to establishment of the payment agreement. After the IRS rejected the agreement, a levy notice with appeal rights was issued. On Appeal, the IRS noted that the taxpayers did not appear to be current on estimates and that they had equity equal to $98,000 in real property. Ultimately Appeals sustained the levy because of non-response. The Tax Court in its review made clear that it has consistently held that an Appeals officer does not abuse their discretion by declining a collection alternative for taxpayers that fail to remain compliant with current taxes. The fundamental take away is that the taxpayer must fix the problem by showing they are capable of paying their current taxes, prior to seeking a collection alternative.
Sale of property owned by Third Parties where tax lien attached
The United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan, Southern Division, in Case No.: 1:00-CV-885, Decided December 20, 2019 ruled that the government could sell a property that was sold to buyers other than the taxpayer, if the federal tax lien was attached at the time of the lien, unless the third party had a prior lien or comes within one of the exceptions of section 6323. The taxpayer in this case put forth a handful of futile arguments regarding improper assessment of tax and invalidity of the federal tax lien. The Court ruled on the plain language of the statutes and found that the assessment was proper, and that the lien arises at the time of assessment and continues until the liability is satisfied or becomes unenforceable due to the statute of limitations. Therefore, the government had an interest in the property at issue before it was transferred, and the government’s interest remained intact. The Court ordered the property sold.