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United States v. Kidwell

United States District Court, E.D. California

February 22, 2017




         The United States brought this action against defendant Daniel L. Kidwell, arising out of defendant's failure to fully pay federal taxes assessed against him. The United States now moves for summary judgment against Kidwell pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. (PL's Mot. (Docket No. 12-1).)

         I. Factual and Procedural History

         This case arises out of defendant's failure to fully pay his self-reported employment tax liabilities for the tax periods ending on September 30, 2004, and December 31, 2004. During the applicable time, defendant owned and operated Kidwell Glass, and he employed several people through this business. Defendant was required to file Form 941, Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return, for the periods at issue.

         A Form 941 for the period ending September 30, 2004, was filed on April 4, 2005, and a Form 941 for the period ending December 31, 2004, was filed on January 31, 2005.[1] (Stevko Decl., Ex. 1 ("Sept. 30 Form 4340") at 1; Ex. 2 ("Dec. 31 Form 4340") at 1 (Docket No. 12-4) .) Based on the amounts reported in the Forms 941, the IRS assessed employment tax liabilities against defendant on March 28, 2005, and May 23, 2005. (Sept. 30 Form 4340 at 1; Dec. 31 Form 4340 at 1.) As of January 9, 2017, defendant has an outstanding tax balance of $96, 532.44.[2] (See Swain Decl., Exs. E-F (Docket No. 12-6).)

         The United States initiated this action on March 1, 2016, seeking to reduce defendant's remaining federal tax assessment to judgment. (Docket No. 1.) In his Answer, defendant alleges that the statute of limitations bars the United States' recovery. (Answer ¶ 17 (Docket No. 5).) The United States now moves for summary judgment. (Pl.'s Mot.)

         II. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is proper "if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A material fact is one that could affect the outcome of the suit, and a genuine issue is one that could permit a reasonable jury to enter a verdict in the non-moving party's favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986) . The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine issue of material fact and can satisfy this burden by presenting evidence that negates an essential element of the non-moving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). Alternatively, the movant can demonstrate that the non-moving party cannot produce evidence to support an essential element upon which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. Id.

         Once the moving party meets its initial burden, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to "designate 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Id. at 324 (quoting then-Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)). The non-moving party must "do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). "The mere existence of a scintilla of evidence . . . will be insufficient; there must be evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the [non-moving party]." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 252.

         In deciding a summary judgment motion, the court must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and draw all justifiable inferences in its favor. Id. at 255. "Credibility determinations, the weighing of the evidence, and the drawing of legitimate inferences from the facts are jury functions, not those of a judge . . . ruling on a motion for summary judgment . . . ." Id.

         III. Discussion

         A. Reducing Tax Liabilities to Judgment

         The United States first moves for summary judgment on its sole claim to reduce defendant's tax liabilities to judgment. "In an action to collect tax, the government bears the initial burden of proof. The government, however, may satisfy this initial burden by introducing into evidence its assessment of taxes due" and providing a "minimal factual foundation" for the assessment. Oliver v. United States, 921 F.2d 916, 919-20 (9th Cir. 1990); see United States v. Janis, 428 U.S. 433, 440-41 (1976); Genry v. United States, 962 F.2d 555, 557 (6th Cir. 1992).

         The United States submits IRS Certificates of Assessments and Payments ("Forms 4340") as proof that the United States assessed taxes against defendant. A Form 4340 is "probative evidence in and of itself and, xin the absence of contrary evidence, is sufficient to establish that notices and assessments were properly made.'" Hansen v. United States, 7 F.3d 137, 138 (9th Cir. 1993) (quoting Hughes v. United States, 953 F.2d 531, 535 (9th Cir. 1992)); see United States v. Wright, Civ. No. 2:94-1183 EJG GGH, 1994 WL 715870, at *7-8 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 1994) (finding Form 4340 satisfied the government's burden at summary judgment of the defendant's tax liability amount); see also United States v. ...

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