The Thirteenth Time Wasn’t the Charm

Sometimes when you deal with the government you get the runaround. Agency “A” will tell you need to talk with Agency “B” while Agency “B” says only Agency “A” can handle the problem. It’s enough to give you gray hair.

One enterprising (albeit Bozo) attorney had an interesting idea of how to apply this in reverse. He had just filed his mother’s estate into probate in King County (Seattle), Washington. He decided to file a Tax Court case on the estate, and tell the Probate Court there was a problem resolving the Tax Court case while telling the Tax Court there was a problem resolving the Probate Court case.

He did this quite successfully for twelve years. Unfortunately, he wasn’t so successful in the thirteenth year. The Tax Court caught on to his scheme and has sanctioned the attorney:

Mr. Allison’s education and legal experience, not to mention his admission to the Tax Court bar, underscore the egregiousness of his conduct. The issues in both cases before us are fairly simple and should have been resolved long ago. Instead, the cases before us have dragged on for over eight years, and the probate case has lingered for more than a decade. We therefore find that he used procedures of our Court primarily for delay, and in doing so was repeatedly dishonest. Mr. Allison’s persistence in the face of warnings from both courts thus warrants a penalty under section 6673(a)(2). That section requires a determination of the costs imposed on the Commissioner, and we will order the Commissioner to file evidence of what those costs were.

Because Mr. Allison is an attorney currently admitted to practice before the Tax Court, other sanctions may be appropriate. We will also send this opinion (and the order to show cause dated March 7, 2008) to the King County Superior Court for their consideration in In re Estate of Allison, No. 95-4-03740-0.

I guess the old saying, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, needs to be lengthened.

Other Coverage: Roth Tax Updates, TaxProf Blog

One Response to “The Thirteenth Time Wasn’t the Charm”

  1. […] The goal of the Tax Court is for the two sides, whenever possible, to settle their cases and to move expeditiously. The only time I can remember an attorney being sanctioned was when an attorney filed a pro se action in his mother’s estate. The Tax Court was not amused by what appeared to be delaying tactics of the probate case in King County (Washington) Superior Court and the Tax Court. In that previous case, the attorney filed a probate action in 1995; he filed a Tax Court action in 2000. Come 2008 and both actions were still ongoing. As I wrote back in 2008, the thirteenth time wasn’t the charm. […]