Thursday, January 09, 2003
Frank E. and Gail L. Dunda and William R. and Deborah L. Cramer both claimed as dependents in 1998 Frank and Deborah's two kids from a previous marriage. The Cramers had custody, but the 1988 divorce decree required Deborah to sign papers giving the exemptions to Frank, as is allowed by the Code. Deborah believed Frank had not properly paid child support, and refused to sign away the exemptions. Relying on an IRS publication, Dunda attached a copy of the divorce decree to their tax return. The IRS denied the claims to both couples, and both ended up in Tax Court, which consolidated the cases.
It seems to me that the only party that is obviously wrong here is the IRS. Somebody gets the exemptions, but they denied both claims. But when you're the government, you do not have to be fair, or logical, or even pick a side. You get to just let the little people fight it out for you.
Held: Cramer gets the exemption because she has custody and she did not sign the release. If she was wrong, take it in a state court, because that is not the Fed's problem.
As for Dunda's reliance on an IRS publication: Ha, ha! You actually believed something the IRS said about Federal taxes? And you were foolish enough to rely on it? Don't you silly laypeople know that the law can only be found in statutes, regulations, and judicial decisions, and caselaw has consistently held that the IRS has no responsibility for what they write about federal taxes in mass-produced publications? Silly citizen, taxes are for professionals.