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Loera v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

June 22, 2005

MANUEL VICTOR LOERA AND ANGELICA LOERA (DECEASED), PLAINTIFF,
v.
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, MARK W. EVERSON AND DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE U.S. ATTORNEY, TAX DIVISION, EILEEN J. O'CONNOR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Claudia Wilken United States District Judge

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

Defendants Commissioner of Internal Revenue, Mark W. Everson and Department of Justice United States Attorney, Tax Division, Eileen J. O'Connor move for summary judgment.*fn1 Pro se Plaintiff Manuel Victor Loera opposes this motion. This case arises from Defendants' denial of Mr. Loera's amended tax return on the ground that it was not filed within the three year statutory period. Mr. Loera submitted, with his amended return, documents purporting to establish that the three-year time period was tolled because he was financially disabled. The matter was heard on February 18, 2005. At the hearing, the Court granted Mr. Loera additional time to produce further information and ordered Defendants to write a letter to Mr. Loera advising him of the necessary information to be submitted by him. On May 27, 2005, Defendants filed their Report Regarding Plaintiff's Alleged Disability to which was attached their letter to Mr. Loera and Mr. Loera's additional information. Having considered all of the papers filed by the parties and oral argument on the motion, the Court GRANTS Defendants' motion.

BACKGROUND

In 1999, Mr. Loera and his wife filed a joint tax return for the 1998 tax year. In July, 2003, Mr. Loera filed an amended tax return seeking a refund for the 1998 taxable year. The amended return was filed over four years after the original. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) denied Mr. Loera's claim for a refund, noting that amended returns must be filed within three years from the time the original return was filed.

With his amended return, Mr. Loera submitted a letter dated July 10, 2003 from Dr. Mary Patten, a letter dated July 23, 2003 from Dr. Albert Yu and a rating decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) based on examinations conducted on March 14 and May 27, 2003. Dr. Patten's letter states that Mr. Loera "provided full time care for [his ill wife] during 1998 and 1999 and thus was unable to attend to his finances during this time period." Dr. Yu's letter reads, "This is to verify that [Mr. Loera] had to dedicate himself to taking care of his wife, who had disabling strokes, and ended w[ith her] passing away in 1999. He had to take care of her full time for almost 3-4 years prior to her death. He was extremely stressed out and unable to attend to his finances during that period of time." The DVA's rating decision was based on two medical examinations in March and May, 2003. The report indicated Mr. Loera suffered from a variety of ailments, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but was "competent to handle [his] funds for VA purposes."

The additional information submitted by Mr. Loera after the hearing is a note written by Dr. Yu dated March 22, 2005, which reads, "This is to verify Mr. Loera was very stressed out and might have difficulty with managing his financial affairs while trying to take care of his sick wife from 1998-1999. I certify that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the above representations are true, correct, and complete. Patient also had low back pain, high blood pressure in last few years."

Mr. Loera also claims he was misinformed by an IRS representative that he should file an appeal in Tax Court and requests compensation in the amount of his costs of filing and shipping documents to the wrong court.

LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is properly granted when no genuine and disputed issues of material fact remain, and when, viewing the evidence most favorably to the non-moving party, the movant is clearly entitled to prevail as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Eisenberg v. Ins. Co. of N. Am., 815 F.2d 1285, 1288-89 (9th Cir. 1987).

The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no material factual dispute. Therefore, the court must regard as true the opposing party's evidence, if supported by affidavits or other evidentiary material. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324; Eisenberg, 815 F.2d at 1289. The court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the party against whom summary judgment is sought. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986); Intel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indem. Co., 952 F.2d 1551, 1558 (9th Cir. 1991).

Material facts which would preclude entry of summary judgment are those which, under applicable substantive law, may affect the outcome of the case. The substantive law will identify which facts are material. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986).

Where the moving party does not bear the burden of proof on an issue at trial, the moving party may discharge its burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact remains by demonstrating that "there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case." Celotex, 477 U.S. at 325. The moving party is not required to produce evidence showing the absence of a material fact on such issues, nor must the moving party support its motion with evidence negating the non-moving party's claim. Id.; see also Lujan v. Nat'l Wildlife Fed'n, 497 U.S. 871, 885 (1990); Bhan v. NME Hosps., Inc., 929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 502 U.S. 994 (1991). If the moving party shows an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case, the burden then shifts to the opposing party to produce "specific evidence, through affidavits or admissible discovery material, to show that the dispute exists." Bhan, 929 F.2d at 1409. A complete failure of proof concerning an essential element of the non-moving party's case necessarily renders all other facts immaterial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 323.

DISCUSSION

Amended tax returns must "be filed by the taxpayer within 3 years from the time the return was filed." 26 U.S.C. § 6511(a). The three year time period is tolled when a person is financially disabled. 26 U.S.C. § 6511(h). In order for a person to be considered financially disabled, he or she must be unable to manage his financial affairs by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment of the individual which can be expected ...


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