United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR
Dennis Saylor IV, United States District Judge
an action to recover an erroneously issued tax refund,
brought pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7405(b). In 2001,
defendant Marjorie Warfield and her husband, John Warfield,
filed a joint income tax return for the year 2000. They
claimed a refund in the amount of $20, 340, which was used to
offset a separate liability of John's. In 2003, Marjorie
and John then each filed additional income tax returns for
the year 2000, this time each claiming a status of
“married filing separately.” Marjorie's
return showed an overpayment of $26, 110, which was then
issued to her in a refund check. It is undisputed that the
refund was erroneously issued. For a short time, Marjorie
made installment payments to pay back the erroneously issued
refund. After those payments stopped, the United States
brought this action to recover the refund.
United States has now moved for summary judgment. The only
dispute is whether Marjorie has already paid back the
erroneously issued refund by overpayments made on her tax
returns between 2004 and 2016. For the reasons stated below,
plaintiff's motion for summary judgment will be granted.
following facts are either undisputed or taken in the light
most favorable to the non-moving party.
October 4, 2001, defendant Marjorie Warfield and her husband,
John Warfield, filed a joint income tax return for the year
2000. (Warfield Dep. at 29-30; Shepardson Decl. ¶
2).They reported no liability and sought a
refund in the amount of $20, 340 based on their withholding.
(Shepardson Decl. ¶ 3). That refund was used to offset a
separate liability of John Warfield-specifically, a civil
penalty assessed under 26 U.S.C. § 6672 for the tax
period ending December 31, 1999. (Id.).
2003, Marjorie and John each filed individual tax returns,
each claiming the status of “married filing separately,
” also for the tax year 2000. (Id. ¶ 4;
Warfield Dep. at 29-30). Marjorie's second tax return
claimed an overpayment in the amount of $26, 110 and sought a
refund, which was paid to her by a check dated August 8,
2003. (Shepardson Decl. ¶ 5; Warfield Dep. at 31).
Marjorie received that check, signed it, and deposited it
into the account of the attorneys who represented her at the
time. (Warfield Dep. at 31-32). The check cleared the Federal
Reserve Bank on August 27, 2003. (Shepardson Decl. ¶ 5).
was not entitled to that refund, and the check was issued to
her by mistake. (Shepardson Decl. ¶ 6). After noticing
the mistake, an Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”)
center in Andover, Massachusetts, attempted to collect the
erroneously issued refund. (Id.). Marjorie did not
dispute that she had received the funds. She returned
approximately $5, 040 by periodic installment payments of
$420. (Id.). She then entered into an installment
agreement with the IRS to pay back the remaining balance.
(Id.). On July 18, 2005, she also agreed, by
executing a Form 907, to extend the time period to August 1,
2006, during which the United States could bring an erroneous
refund action. (Pl. Ex. 3). Marjorie ceased making
installment payments in December 2005. (Id.).
filed a petition for bankruptcy in 2007. The bankruptcy
proceedings continued through 2015. (Id.). For the
years 2006 through 2014, she filed tax returns with
overpayments totaling $66, 804, with the apparent intent that
those funds would be used to pay back the outstanding
balance. (Id., Def. Exs. 2-10). According to her,
she could not communicate that intention to the IRS because
of communication limitations imposed as a result of the
ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. (Def. SMF ¶ 7).
United States filed this action on August 1, 2006, seeking
return of the amounts owed. On July 9, 2009, the action was
dismissed without prejudice pending the completion and
termination of the bankruptcy proceedings. Following the
conclusion of those proceedings, the United States moved to
reopen this action on January 12, 2016. That motion was
granted, and this action was reopened on January 20, 2016.
The United States has now moved for summary judgment in its
role of summary judgment is to “pierce the pleadings
and to assess the proof in order to see whether there is a
genuine need for trial.” Mesnick v. General Elec.
Co.,950 F.2d 816, 822 (1st Cir. 1991) (quoting
Garside v. Osco Drug, Inc.,895 F.2d 46, 50 (1st
Cir. 1990)). Summary judgment is appropriate when the moving
party shows that “there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A genuine issue is
“one that must be decided at trial because the
evidence, viewed in the light most flattering to the
nonmovant . . . would permit a rational fact finder to
resolve the issue in favor of either party.”
Medina-Munoz v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 896 F.2d
5, 8 (1st Cir. 1990) (citation omitted). In evaluating a
summary judgment motion, the court indulges all reasonable
inferences in favor of the nonmoving party. See
O'Connor v. Steeves,994 F.2d 905, 907 (1st Cir.
1993). When “a properly supported motion for summary
judgment is made, the adverse party must set forth specific
facts showing that there is ...