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Harrison v. Internal Revenue Service Commission

United States District Court, W.D. Wisconsin

January 9, 2020

MARK W. HARRISON and ELLEN C. HARRISON, Plaintiffs,
v.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE COMMISSION sic OF INTERNAL REVENUE, and UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM M. CONLEY DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiffs Mark W. and Ellen C. Harrison seek a refund of an alleged overpayment for federal tax year 2012. 26 U.S.C. §§ 6422, 6511. Before the court is defendants' motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for summary judgment. (Dkt. #11.)[1] For the reasons that follow, the court will grant defendants' alternative motion for summary judgment, finding that plaintiffs' claimed overpayment of taxes falls outside of the statutory cutoff for claiming a refund.

         TREATMENT OF MOTION

         As an initial matter, defendants move to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing that the complaint fails to include necessary factual allegations about the payment of the tax at issue, and whether any portion of the payment occurred within the three-year statute limitation. Defendants also submit information outside of the pleadings in the form of a declaration of an IRS Revenue Advisor and certified IRS records (dkt. #13), inviting the court to convert the motion to one for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiffs are in fact time-barred from recovering any alleged overpayment. Because plaintiffs responded to the motion for summary judgment and submitted their own declaration in opposition to that motion (dkt. #20), the court will take up defendants' alternative motion for summary judgment. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d); see also Tri-Gen Inc. v. Int'l Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO, 433 F.3d 1024, 1029 (7th Cir. 2006) (“Adequate notice is provided when the moving party frames its motion in the alternative as one for summary judgment.)[2]

         UNDISPUTED FACTS[3]

         Plaintiffs Mark and Ellen Harrison were subject to income tax withholdings from wages or other income in the amount of $16, 720.48 for tax year 2012. Plaintiffs now allege that they only owed $9, 334.00 in taxes that year, and, therefore, seek a refund of $7, 386.48 in withholdings.

         Plaintiffs did not file a federal income tax return for tax year 2012 on its initial due date, April 15, 2013. Instead, plaintiffs sought and received an extension to file their 2012 federal income tax return until on or before October 15, 2013. Although plaintiffs state in their brief that they actually received an extension through October 15, 2016, plaintiffs do not cite any support for this statement. (Pls.' Opp'n (dkt. #18) 2.) As importantly, the representation is not supported by the IRS records. Perhaps plaintiffs intended to state that they received an extension until October 15, 2013; regardless, plaintiffs have failed to raise a genuine issue of material fact as to the actual extension date.

         Approximately three years later, on Tuesday, October 11, 2016, plaintiffs mailed their 2012 tax return via certified mail seeking a refund of taxes withheld. The return was received by the IRS on Monday, October 17, 2016.

         OPINION

         Defendants assert, and plaintiffs do not dispute, that the following three requirements must be met for a successful refund claim:

1) Full payment of the tax at issue;
2) Filing a timely, and sufficient, administrative claim for refund pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §§ 7422(a), 6511(a); and
3) Tax payments must be made within the limitations period under § 6511(b)(2)(A).

         (Defs.' Opening Br. (dkt. #12) 6 (citing Flora v. United States, 357 U.S. 63, 68-69, 75 (1958), aff'd on rehearing, 362 U.S. 145 (1990) (requiring full payment of tax at issue); United States v. Dalm,494 ...


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