Just Like the Last Time…

When the first paragraph of a Tax Court decision ends, “Mr. Oropeza’s position is, in a word, “frivolous.” Just like we held it was the last time he was in Tax Court,” it’s likely the case is worth reading—if only for the humor value. And that’s the case here.

The petitioner earned wages in 2002 and 2003 but reported zeroes on his tax return because income wasn’t income constitutionally. That’s frivolous, and since the World Series began today, let’s call that strike one. Eventually the petitioner received a notice of Intent to Levy, and he responded to the IRS. He said he had learned his lesson: “In his request he specifically renounced any of his previous arguments that the Commissioner might consider frivolous, and asked only that the IRS verify that it had followed all required procedures.” The IRS did exactly that.

The petitioner got his hearing but he couldn’t raise any real issues. In the end, the petitioner said he’d see the IRS in Court. And that’s where the case went:

…Mr. Oropeza gives us no reason to upset the Appeals officer’s conclusion that a levy is appropriate–Mr. Oropeza did not suggest any collection alternatives to balance against the government’s interest in efficient tax collection.

We also reject Mr. Oropeza’s procedural arguments. Taxpayers who make only frivolous arguments aren’t entitled to face-to-face hearings. Lunsford v. Commissioner, 117 T.C. 183, 189 (2001). Taxpayers who make no arguments are likewise not entitled to a face-to-face hearing. Oropeza, T.C. Memo. 2008-94.

It’s not a good thing when the Tax Court can give as a citation your prior failed attempt in Tax Court. Needless to say, the petitioner lost the case. That’s strike two.

What is lucky today was that he didn’t suffer a penalty for bringing a frivolous case in the Tax Court. He certainly could have, so Mr. Oropeza should consider himself very lucky. Somehow, he avoided strike three, but he still does owe the tax.

Case: Oropeza v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2009-244

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