United States District Court, D. Rhode Island
SAIDA E. MAMEDOVA, Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
WILLIAM E. SMITH CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is Defendant United States of America's Motion
to Dismiss. (ECF No. 8.) Plaintiff, Saida E. Mamedova,
brought a wrongful levy action, pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §
7426(a)(1), against Defendant after the Internal Revenue
Service (“IRS”) placed a levy on her property for
unpaid taxes. For the reasons set forth below,
Defendant's motion is GRANTED.
2, 2011 and June 18, 2012, the IRS made income tax
assessments for unpaid taxes against Plaintiff and her
husband, Vadym Huzenko, for the 2009 and 2010 tax years in
the amounts of $234, 651.75 and $32, 124.02, respectively.
(Am. Compl. 1; Account Tr. Ex. A, ECF No. 8-2; Account Tr.
Ex. B, ECF No. 8-2.) Plaintiff requested Innocent Spouse
Relief from the IRS for the 2009 tax year, which was denied
on July 21, 2014. She petitioned the United States Tax Court
(“Tax Court”) for a redetermination on October
21, 2014. (Pet. 1 Ex. B, ECF No. 12-2.) On December 7, 2015,
the Tax Court denied Plaintiff's petition (the
“Decision”). Mamedova v. Comm'r, No.
25022-14, slip op. at 1 (T.C. Dec. 7, 2015); (Tax Court
Decision Ex. C, ECF No. 12-3). The Decision stated that
“[p]ursuant to the agreement of the parties in this
case, it is ORDERED AND DECIDED: That [Plaintiff] is not
entitled to relief under I.R.C. § 6015(f) with respect
to her income tax liability for the taxable year 2009.”
Mamedova, No. 25022-14 at 1-2.
the 2009 and 2010 taxes still unpaid, the IRS issued
Plaintiff and her husband a Notice of Federal Tax Lien Filing
on March 28, 2017. (Am. Compl. Ex. B.) On April 17, 2017, the
IRS issued a levy against Plaintiff and her husband for
unpaid taxes for the years 2009 and 2010 on their property
located at Florida Community Bank in Immokalee, Florida. (Am.
Compl. Ex. A.) Seeking relief from the levy, Plaintiff
brought this wrongful levy action pursuant to 26 U.S.C.
has moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, arguing that
Defendant has not waived sovereign immunity for
Plaintiff's claim. (United States' Mot. To Dismiss 1,
ECF No. 8.)
a waiver, sovereign immunity shields the Federal Government
and its agencies from suit.” F.D.I.C. v.
Meyer, 510 U.S. 471, 475 (1994) (citing Loeffler v.
Frank, 486 U.S. 549, 554 (1988); Fed. Hous. Admin.
v. Burr, 309 U.S. 242, 244 (1940)). “Sovereign
immunity is jurisdictional in nature. Indeed, the
‘terms of [the United States'] consent to be sued
in any court define that court's jurisdiction to
entertain the suit.'” Id. (alteration in
original) (quoting United States v. Sherwood, 312
U.S. 584, 586 (1941)). “It is axiomatic that the United
States may not be sued without its consent and that the
existence of consent is a prerequisite for
jurisdiction.” Id. (quoting United States
v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206, 212 (1983)). “Waivers
of the Government's sovereign immunity, to be effective,
must be ‘unequivocally expressed.'”
United States v. Nordic Vill. Inc., 503 U.S. 30, 33
(1992) (quoting Irwin v. Dep't of Veterans
Affairs, 498 U.S. 89, 95 (1990)). “[T]he
Government's consent to be sued ‘must be
“construed strictly in favor of the sovereign, ”
and not “enlarge[d] . . . beyond what the language
requires[.]”'” Id. at 34 (second
alteration and omission in original) (citations omitted).
wrongful levy claim is brought pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §
7426(a)(1). Section 7426(a)(1) states: “[i]f a levy has
been made on property . . . any person (other than the
person against whom is assessed the tax out of which such
levy arose) who claims an interest in or lien on such
property and that such property was wrongfully levied upon
may bring a civil action against the United States in a
district court of the United States.” (Emphasis added.)
The IRS assessed and issued a levy against Plaintiff for
unpaid taxes for the 2009 and 2010 tax years, as evidenced by
Plaintiff's name appearing alongside her husband's
name on the IRS account transcripts for the 2009 and 2010 tax
years. (Account Tr. Ex. A; Account Tr. Ex. B.) Thus,
Plaintiff is undoubtedly “the person against whom is
assessed the tax out of which such levy arose” and
outside the statutory waiver. See 26 U.S.C. §
7426(a)(1); see also Komlo v. United States, 657 F.
App'x 85, 88 (3d Cir. 2016) (affirming district
court's dismissal on the basis of sovereign immunity for
plaintiff's wrongful levy claim where plaintiff
“lack[ed] recourse under the statute because
[plaintiff] [was] the ‘person against whom' the IRS
‘assessed the tax' giving rise to the levy at
issue”) (quoting § 7426(a)).
argues that she is not the person against whom the tax is
assessed as she reached an agreement with the IRS that she
did not jointly file tax returns with her husband in 2009 and
2010, and she argues that she did not otherwise have any
income in those years. (Mem. in Supp. of the Pl.'s Resp.
to the United States Mot. To Dismiss 1, ECF No. 10.)
Plaintiff cites only the Decision of the Tax Court on
Plaintiff's petition to receive Innocent Spouse Relief
for the 2009 tax year as evidence of this agreement.
(Id.) While the Decision states that Plaintiff and
the IRS reached an agreement, the Decision does not state the
substance of the agreement. See Mamedova, No.
25022-14 at 1-2.
the agreement noted in the Decision is beside the point
because, even accepting Plaintiff's argument about her
agreement with the IRS as true, Plaintiff is attempting to
show that the tax assessment against her is invalid, which is
impermissible under § 7426. See Shannon v. United
States, 521 F.2d 56, 59 (9th Cir. 1975) (“one who
sues under [section] 7426 cannot challenge the validity of
the assessment”). In § 7426 actions, the tax
assessment is “conclusively presumed to be
valid.” See 26 U.S.C. § 7426(c)
(“For purposes of an adjudication under this section,
the assessment of tax upon which the interest or lien of the
United States is based shall be conclusively presumed to be
valid.”). Thus, § 7426(c) prohibits Plaintiff from
challenging the validity of the tax assessment made against
her and requires the Court to accept the tax assessments as
valid. See Shannon, 521 F.2d at 59 n.9 (“once
the assessment is made, the individual assessed is barred
from challenging the validity of the assessment”);
see also Komlo, 657 F. App'x at 88 (rejecting
plaintiff's argument that plaintiff was not a person
assessed a tax by the IRS by allegedly paying outstanding
deficiencies after an assessment was entered against the
plaintiff because “in the adjudication of a wrongful
levy claim, the underlying assessment ‘shall be
conclusively presumed to be valid'” (citing 26
U.S.C. § 7426(c))). Therefore, the Court has to accept
the tax assessments made against Plaintiff as presumptively
valid pursuant to § 7426(c).
the tax assessments against Plaintiff as valid pursuant to
§ 7426(c), Plaintiff is clearly a person against whom
the tax is assessed out of which the levy arose, and, as
discussed above, Defendant has not waived sovereign immunity
for this claim. Thus, this Court lacks jurisdiction to ...