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Tuesday, February 18, 2003


I do not currently practice tax law, but I do practice federal administrative law, and the facts in the case of John R. Rivera have an infuriatingly familiar feel to me. In this collection action, IRS first told Tax Court Rivera could not contest liability for 1977 to 1984, but could contest liability for 1985 to 1992, and 1994. Then IRS changes its mind, saying he could contest liability for 1977 to 1984, because they were based on either delinquent returns or agreements signed by Rivera, and we are not quite sure which, but he could not contest liability for 1985 to 1992, 1994, and, oh yeah, 1997, which we forgot to mention last time, because we know he signed agreements for those years. At trial, IRS could not produce records related to the first period, and Rivera accused them of dreaming up the numbers. After first telling Tax Court the records had been destroyed, they later submitted revenue agents reports made in 1995 from unknown sources. A frustrated Tax Court remanded for the first period and ruled for the IRS on collection for the second period. The dividing line between the two periods changed from 1984/1985 in the facts to 1983/1984 in the Tax Court�s ruling for reasons I missed somewhere.

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