IRC Section 7122
The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Estate of Kwang Lee, Deceased, Anthony J. Frese, Executor v. Comm’r of Internal Revenue, Case No. 21-2921 handed down an opinion on August 23, 2022 in which the Court ruled that the denial of an Offer in Compromise for estate taxes by the IRS was appropriate and that the Executor could be held personally liable for non-payment of the Estate taxes. The decedent in this matter passed away many years ago – in 2001. The Executor, Anthony J. Frese miscalculated the estate tax on the estate and ultimately received a notice of deficiency in 2006 and a formal deficiency from the IRS in 2010. However, between 2004 and 2010, the Executor distributed over $1 million in assets to the beneficiaries, including $640,000 after receiving the notice of deficiency. The Estate filed an Offer in Compromise and tried to settle for the remaining assets of the estate. The IRS rejected the Offer, arguing that their reasonable collection potential was higher than what was offered, in part because IRC section 3713(b) allows the government to hold the executor personally liable when the executor transfers property before satisfying a known estate tax. As such, the argument by the estate that the IRS Office of Appeals had abused its discretion in denying the Offer based on payment of the remaining assets of the estate, fails.
Offer in Compromise
In John F. Campbell v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo 2019-4, Filed February 4, 2019, the Tax Court ruled that an IRS Appeals officer, in the context of reviewing an Offer in Compromise during a Collection Due Process hearing, abused his discretion when including certain dissipated assets in the calculate of Reasonable Collection Potential (RCP). The Court explained that the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) sets forth when dissipated assets should be included in RCP. Per IRM 220.127.116.11(1), dissipated assets are only included in RCP where “it can be shown that the taxpayer has sold, transferred, encumbered or otherwise disposed of assets in an attempt to avoid the payment of the tax liability,” or otherwise used the assets “for other than the payment of items necessary for the production of income or the health and welfare of the taxpayer or their family, after the tax has been assessed or during a period up to six months prior to or after the tax assessment.” The IRM instructs that the Appeals officers should use a three-year look-back period, from the date the offer is made, to determine whether it is appropriate to include dissipated assets in the RCP calculation. The officer may look beyond this period if there is a transfer of assets within six months before or after the assessment of the tax liability. The Court deemed it an abuse by the Appeals officer to include assets transferred 6 years before the assessment and 10 years before the Offer was submitted. The Court was further disturbed by additional IRS allegations that the taxpayer sought to “waste his wealth,” rather than pay his tax liabilities. There was no evidence on the record, or otherwise, supporting this contention.