United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
JAMES T. LAWSON, and DONNA S. LAWSON, Plaintiffs,
UNITED STATES INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICES, Defendant.
T. Lawson, Plaintiff, Pro Se.
S. Lawson, Plaintiff, Pro Se.
States Internal Revenue Service, Defendant, represented by
Steven M. Dean, U.S. Department of Justice, Tax Division &
Michael Lobie, U.S. Department of Justice.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
PATRICIA A. SULLIVAN, Magistrate Judge.
James T. Lawson and Donna S. Lawson (the
"Lawsons"), acting pro se,  have sued the
Internal Revenue Service (IRS), challenging tax collection
efforts that they perceive either as contrary to the binding
settlement of their tax court case in 2015 or violative of
the statute of limitations. Eschewing other avenues of
relief, the Lawsons brought their claim directly to this
Court. In so doing, they ask this Court to ignore clear
congressional policy that federal district courts should not
intervene preemptively in the tax collection process.
United States v. Thomas, 577 F.Supp.2d 469, 479 (D.
Me. 2008). The IRS responded with the pending motion to
dismiss pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), arguing that this
Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to grant the relief
the Lawsons seek. ECF No. 3. It has been referred to me for
report and recommendation. 28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1)(B).
against the United States are barred by sovereign immunity
except where Congress has expressly created a waiver; when it
comes to the collection of federal tax revenues, Congress has
given the IRS a monopoly and created a narrow but clear set
of moves for taxpayers seeking to challenge its tax
collection activities. These time-tested principles do not
permit taxpayers to side-step administrative remedies and
bring their claim against the IRS directly in district court.
Based on the bedrock doctrine that the sovereign is immune
from suit except to the extent that immunity is waived, I
recommend that the IRS's motion to dismiss be granted. My
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Lawsons' tale of tax woe began, like so many, with a
federal tax audit, which led to a notice of deficiency in
March 2012 for over $650, 000 in unpaid taxes for tax years
2007, 2008, and 2009, inclusive of penalties and additions.
ECF No. 4 at 3; ECF No. 4-1 at 7. In June 2012, the Lawsons
properly challenged the deficiencies by initiating a
proceeding in United States Tax Court ("Tax
Court"). ECF No. 1 at 2. After a long delay, apparently
caused by one or more bankruptcy proceedings involving Mr.
Lawson,  the Tax Court case ended with a
stipulation that lowered the Lawsons' federal income tax
assessment by hundreds of thousands of dollars for the three
years under review. ECF No. 4 at 3; ECF No. 4-1 at 2-3; ECF
No. 6 at 2. On January 28, 2015, the Tax Court entered an
Order and Decision that memorialized this stipulation (the
"Tax Court Ruling"),  which provides that the
Lawsons owe $49, 313 for tax year 2007 and $800 for tax year
2009, and that "there is an overpayment in tax due to
[the Lawsons]... in the amount of $36, 062" for tax year
2008. See ECF No. 4 at 3.
that (from the Lawsons' perspective), things went awry.
October 19, 2015, the IRS sent a tax refund letter to the
Lawsons for tax year 2008 ("Refund Letter").
Inconsistently with the Tax Court Ruling on tax year 2008, it
stated that they overpaid by only $29, 564, instead of the
$36, 062 set forth in the Tax Court Ruling. ECF No. 4-1
at 4. It also deducted "unpaid balance[s]" to
"an amount owed" for four other tax years,
including 1998 and 2006,  neither of which had been in issue
in the Tax Court case, as well as $226.03 (instead of $49,
313) for tax year 2007 and $800 for tax year 2009. ECF No.
4-1 at 4. As the Lawsons argue in this Court, they do not
understand any of these deductions except for the $800 unpaid
tax for tax year 2009, which is consistent with the Tax Court
getting the Refund Letter, the Lawsons contacted the IRS
several times to express their displeasure. On October 23,
2015, they sent the IRS a "Request for Appeals
Review;" on October 25, 2015, they mailed an
"Application for Fast Track Settlement"; and on
October 19, 2015, and again on November 23, 2015, they sent
certified notices that requested backup information on why
the IRS deducted these amounts from their 2008 refund in
light of the Tax Court Ruling. See ECF No. 1 at 2; ECF No. 4
at 4; ECF No. 8-2 at 1-2 (certified mail receipts dated
October 24 and November 7, 2015). Then, on November 30, 2015,
they gave up on further pursuit of any administrative
remedies and filed their complaint in this
Lawsons' extremely confusing filings (including their
complaint and the various supplementations) essentially
contend that the Refund Letter, coupled with other tax
collection actions taken by the IRS, amount to "Criminal
and deceptive" actions, based on "strange
accounting methods" for which they now seek relief in
this Court. ECF No. 4 at 6. The title of the complaint is an
"Action to Compel [IRS] Under 6-5.410 - Tax Refund
Suits/Petitions for Readjustment." It contains four
requests for relief:
â¢ For tax year 1998, it contends that the amount deducted
from the refund due is barred by the statute of limitations.
ECF No. 1 at 3; ECF No. 8 at 2.
â¢ For tax year 2006, it demands "[v]erification of the
amount of 2006 taxes in the amount of $1, 662.21 and source
of same for the amount as the [Lawsons] were never apprised
of the source of this [assessment]." ECF No. 1 at 4.
â¢ For tax year 2007, it contends that any assessment beyond
the amount provided for by the Tax Court Ruling is barred.
ECF No. 1 at 3, 4.
â¢ For tax year 2009, it demands that the Court order the IRS
to process the Lawsons' tax return as implicitly required
by the Tax Court Ruling, which they claim would result in an