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Blanchette v. United States

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

October 8, 2014

DENNIS A. BLANCHETTE,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

MEMORANDUM ON DEFENDANT UNITED STATES' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

RICHARD G. STEARNS, District Judge.

Plaintiff Dennis Blanchette sued the United States[1] alleging that, between 2009-2012, the United States, through the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), confiscated all of his monthly Social Security Administration (SSA) benefits, and roughly one half of his retirement pension, causing him dire financial hardship. He seeks $12, 000, 000 in damages from the United States Government.[2] The United States maintains that the IRS assessed and collected federal income tax due and owing from Blanchette in a manner permitted by the Internal Revenue Code, and that his claims are barred by the Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity.

On August 29, 2014, the United States filed a motion for summary judgment[3] together with sworn declarations from IRS employees Frank Enaire, John Carroll, and Donna Czelowalnik, along with transcripts of assessment and copies of correspondence between the IRS and Blanchette. The United States alleges that the IRS complied with all applicable statutes and regulations in assessing Blanchette's federal income tax liability for the tax years 1998-2003 and 2005-2011, after Blanchette failed to file tax returns or pay any tax for those years despite earning substantial income (as evidenced by third-party information returns such as 1099's), and after Blanchette refused to respond to years of IRS demand notices. The United States also asserts that the IRS has complied with all applicable statutes and regulations in initiating the forced collection of the amounts owing.[4]

As a sovereign entity, the United States may not be sued in the state or federal courts absent a waiver of immunity. Any claim of waiver will be strictly construed in favor of the United States. Cascone v. United States, 370 F.3d 95, 102 (1st Cir. 2004). Blanchette in his Complaint neither invokes a statutory waiver, nor alleges facts that might be construed to create one by implication. The only statute that operates to waive the immunity of the United States in suits seeking damages for improper tax collection is 26 U.S.C. § 7433.[5] See id. at § 7433(a) ("Except [for a failure to release a recorded lien], [a section 7433] action shall be the exclusive remedy for recovering damages resulting from [certain unauthorized collection actions]."). Blanchette does not aver that the IRS levied for liabilities that he did not legally owe, nor does the Complaint contain any specific facts from which one could reasonably infer the elements of a plausible claim that an unauthorized collection action took place. Further, Blanchette has not pled facts that could, even charitably, be construed as meeting the elements of section 7433 (which includes an exhaustion of administrative remedies requirement (section 7433(d)(1)) and a requirement that the action be brought within two years from the date the right of action accrued (section 7433(d)(3)).

ORDER

For the foregoing reasons, the United States' motion for summary judgment is ALLOWED. The Clerk will enter judgment for the United States and close the case.

SO ORDERED.


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