United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON MOTION FOR PARTIAL SUMMARY
ALLISON D. BURROUGHS U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
United States of America (the “Government”),
commenced this action against Defendants David Seeley and
Seretha Seeley (the “Seeleys”) to recover unpaid
tax liabilities and to enforce federal tax liens that
encumber a parcel of real property located in Topsfield,
Massachusetts (the “Property”) by means of a
forced sale. [ECF No. 1]. The Government has joined as
Defendants the Town of Topsfield, Massachusetts and the
Massachusetts Department of Revenue because they have or
could claim an interest in the Property. [See ECF
No. 1 ¶¶3- 4]. Currently pending before the Court
is the Government's motion for partial summary judgment.
[ECF No. 40]. For the reasons stated below, the
Government's motion is GRANTED.
following facts are drawn from the statement of facts
contained in the Government's motion for summary judgment
[ECF No. 40-1], unless otherwise noted. The Court considers
all undisputed facts set forth in the Government's
statement of facts to be admitted. See Zimmerman v.
Puccio, 613 F.3d 60, 63 (1st Cir. 2010).
Seeleys reside in Topsfield, Massachusetts at the Property,
which they purchased in 1999. [ECF No. 40-1 ¶ 15]. From
2005 through 2014, the Seeleys accrued federal tax
liabilities for every tax year. [Id. ¶¶
1-10]. A delegate of the Secretary of the Treasury made
assessments for federal income tax liabilities against the
Seeleys for those tax years. [Id.]. As to each
assessment, a delegate of the Secretary of the Treasury
notified the Seeleys of the assessment and made a demand for
payment. [Id. ¶ 12]. The Internal Revenue
Service (“IRS”) has issued Form 4340 Certificates
of Assessment and Payment that detail the Seeleys' tax
liabilities for each individual tax period, including
statutory interest and penalties. [ECF No. 40-4 at 43-93].
These assessments reflect the Seeleys' unpaid tax
liabilities as of the dates of assessment. [Id.].
Unpaid balances totaling $103, 082.04 remain for the assessed
tax periods, plus statutory interest and penalties that have
accrued since January 31, 2018.
of Federal Tax Liens against the Seeleys for their income tax
liabilities for the tax years 2005 to 2014 were recorded by
the IRS with the Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds in
2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015. [ECF No. 40-5 at 5-11].
Notices of Federal Tax Liens against the Seeleys were refiled
for the tax years 2005 and 2006 in 2016. [Id. at 12;
ECF No. 54-1 at 3].
August 31, 2016, the Seeleys filed for relief under Chapter 7
of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the
District of Massachusetts (the “Bankruptcy
Court”). [ECF No. 40-1 ¶ 14]; In re
Seeley, No. 16-13357 (Bankr. D. Mass.). On December 28,
2016, the Bankruptcy Court granted an Order of Discharge, and
the Bankruptcy Court closed the Seeleys' bankruptcy case
on January 4, 2017. [ECF No. 40-1 ¶ 14].
Government commenced this action on May 24, 2016 to enforce
federal tax liens pursuant to 26 U.S.C. §§ 7401 and
7403. [ECF No. 1]. On March 5, 2018, the Government filed its
motion for partial summary judgment seeking (i) to reduce to
judgment its assessments against the Seeleys for unpaid
taxes, penalties, and interest; (ii) a judgment that the
Seeleys' bankruptcy judgment did not discharge their
liabilities for the 2013 and 2014 tax years; (iii) a judgment
that the tax liens are valid and were not discharged by the
Seeleys' bankruptcy judgment; and (iv) to enforce the
federal tax liens associated with the Seeleys'
liabilities for the tax years 2005 through 2014 via a
foreclosure sale of the Property. [ECF No. 40]. The Town of
Topsfield, the Seeleys, and the Massachusetts Department of
Revenue filed their responses to the Government's motion
on April 2, April 6, and April 12, 2018, respectively. [ECF
Nos. 41, 42, 47]. On April 23, 2018, the Government filed
its reply brief. [ECF No. 54].
STANDARD OF REVIEW
judgment is appropriate where “the movant 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. An issue is considered “genuine”
when “the evidence of record permits a rational
factfinder to resolve it in favor of either party.”
Borges ex rel. S.M.B.W. v. Serrano-Isern, 605 F.3d
1, 4-5 (1st Cir. 2010) (citing Medina-Munoz v. R.J.
Reynolds Tobacco Co., 896 F.2d 5, 8 (1st Cir. 1990)). A
fact is considered “material” when “its
existence or nonexistence has the potential to change the
outcome of the suit.” Id. at 5 (citing
Martínez v. Colón, 54 F.3d 980, 984
(1st Cir. 1995)).
succeed in showing that there is no genuine dispute of
material fact, the moving party must direct [the Court] to
specific evidence in the record that would be admissible at
trial.” Ocasio-Hernández v.
Fortuño-Burset, 777 F.3d 1, 4 (1st Cir. 2015).
“That is, it must ‘affirmatively produce evidence
that negates an essential element of the non-moving
party's claim,' or, using ‘evidentiary
materials already on file . . . demonstrate that the
non-moving party will be unable to carry its burden of
persuasion at trial.'” Id. at 4-5 (citing
Carmona v. Toledo, 215 F.3d 124, 132 (1st Cir.
2000)). Once the moving party has laid out its basis for
summary judgment, the burden shifts to the party opposing
summary judgment to demonstrate, “with respect to each
issue on which she would bear the burden of proof at trial, .
. . that a trier of fact could reasonably resolve that issue
in her favor.” Borges, 605 F.3d at 5.
motion for summary judgment, the Court reviews “the
entire record in the light most hospitable to the party
opposing summary judgment.” Podiatrist Ass'n,
Inc. v. La Cruz Azul De P.R., Inc., 332 F.3d 6, 13 (1st
Cir. 2003). Where inferences are to be drawn from the stated
facts, those inferences “must be viewed in the light
most favorable to the party opposing the motion.”
Oleskey ex rel. Boumediene v. U.S. Dep't of
Def., 658 F.Supp.2d 288, 294 (D. Mass. 2009) (citing
Founding Church of Scientology of Wash., D.C., Inc. v.
Nat'l Sec. Agency, 610 F.2d 824, 836 (D.C. Cir.
1979)). The Court, however, “safely may ignore
conclusory allegations, improbable inferences, and
unsupported speculation.” Cochran v. Quest
Software, Inc., 328 F.3d 1, 6 (1st Cir. 2003) (internal
quotation and citation omitted).
motion for partial summary judgment, the Government contends
that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to the
validity of the federal income tax assessments against the
Seeleys and that it is entitled to enforce its liens arising
from those assessments against the Property. As set forth
below, the Court finds that the tax assessments and tax liens
against the Seeleys are valid and that the Government may
enforce the tax liens through the sale of the Property.
Judgment on Federal ...