United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER & FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
ALLISON CLAIRE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
is proceeding in this action pro se. This matter was
accordingly referred to the undersigned by E.D. Cal.
302(c)(21). Plaintiff has filed a request for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”) pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1915, and has submitted the affidavit required
by that statute. See 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1915(a)(1). ECF No.
2. The motion to proceed IFP will therefore be GRANTED.
federal IFP statute requires federal courts to dismiss a case
if the action is legally “frivolous or malicious,
” fails to state a claim upon which relief may be
granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is
immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2).
Plaintiff must assist the court in determining whether or not
the complaint is frivolous, by drafting the complaint so that
it complies with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
(“Fed. R. Civ. P.”). The Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure are available online at
is legally frivolous when it lacks an arguable basis either
in law or in fact. Neitzke v. Williams, 490 U.S.
319, 325 (1989). In reviewing a complaint under this
standard, the court will (1) accept as true all of the
factual allegations contained in the complaint, unless they
are clearly baseless or fanciful, (2) construe those
allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, and
(3) resolve all doubts in the plaintiff's favor. See
Neitzke, 490 U.S. at 327; Von Saher v. Norton Simon
Museum of Art at Pasadena, 592 F.3d 954, 960 (9th Cir.
2010), cert. denied, 564 U.S. 1037 (2011).
court applies the same rules of construction in determining
whether the complaint states a claim on which relief can be
granted. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007)
(court must accept the allegations as true); Scheuer v.
Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974) (court must construe
the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff).
Pro se pleadings are held to a less stringent standard than
those drafted by lawyers. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S.
519, 520 (1972). However, the court need not accept as true
conclusory allegations, unreasonable inferences, or
unwarranted deductions of fact. Western Mining Council v.
Watt, 643 F.2d 618, 624 (9th Cir. 1981). A formulaic
recitation of the elements of a cause of action does not
suffice to state a claim. Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555-57 (2007); Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). To state a claim on
which relief may be granted, the plaintiff must allege enough
facts “to state a claim to relief that is plausible on
its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570. “A
claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads
factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct
alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.
a federal court has an independent duty to assess whether
federal subject matter jurisdiction exists, whether or not
the parties raise the issue. See Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon
Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999) (recognizing that
“Article III generally requires a federal court to
satisfy itself of its jurisdiction over the subject matter
before it considers the merits of a case”). The court
must dismiss the case sua sponte if, at any time, it
determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3). A federal district court generally has
original jurisdiction over a civil action when: (1) a federal
question is presented in an action “arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States”
or (2) there is complete diversity of citizenship between the
parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332(a).
pleadings are liberally construed. See Hebbe v.
Pliler, 627 F.3d 338, 342 (9th Cir. 2010). A pro se
litigant is entitled to notice of the deficiencies in the
complaint and an opportunity to amend, unless the
complaint's deficiencies could not be cured by amendment.
See Noll v. Carlson, 809 F.2d 1446, 1448 (9th Cir.
brings this suit against two Sacramento-based tax-exempt
organizations - The U.S. Mendicant Buddhist Congregation and
the Minh Quang Meditation Center - and several of their
corporate officers, based on a failure to produce the
organizations' tax documents to him for inspection. ECF
No. 1 at 2-3. Plaintiff asserts that his demand for
inspection was authorized by 26 U.S.C. § 6104(d) and 26
C.F.R. § 301.6104(d)-1, which require certain tax-exempt
organizations to make specified tax documents available for
public inspection, and that therefore the court has federal
question jurisdiction. Id. at 3, 9. He claims that
“[i]t is not necessary . . . to assert grounds and/or
bases for this petition, ” as he is merely using the
petition “as the means to seek information about the
religious corporations.” Id. at 8-9. Plaintiff
seeks an order to compel the production of the
organizations' tax documents and a “monetary
sanction” of $45, 000. Id. at
6104(d) of the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”)
provides, in pertinent part, that for a three-year period
following the filing date for their annual tax returns,
certain tax-exempt organizations must make the returns
available “for inspection during regular business hours
by any individual at the principal office of such
organization . . . .” 26 U.S.C. § 6104(d)(1)-(2).
Section 301.6104(d)-1 is part of the Internal Revenue
Service's regulations implementing Section 6104.
Plaintiff's suit rests entirely upon the disclosure
requirements listed in these provisions. However, “the
fact that a federal statute has been violated and some person
harmed does not automatically give rise to a private cause of
action in favor of that person.” Cannon v. Univ. of
Chicago, 441 U.S. 677, 688 (1979). While the Ninth
Circuit has not addressed the issue, “courts
considering 26 U.S.C. § 6104 have uniformly determined
that there is no private right of action under the
statute.” Doan v. Vietnamese Buddhist Ass'n of
Sacramento, No. 2:19-CV-00996 KJM KJN PS, 2019 WL
2763167, at *2 (E.D. Cal. July 2, 2019) (collecting cases).
structure of the statute and its implementing regulations
support this conclusion. The IRC creates a monetary penalty
for violations of Section 6104(d), and provides that no civil
action for the recovery of taxes or penalties shall be
commenced without the authority of the Secretary of the
Treasury. See 26 U.S.C. §§ 6652(c)(1)(C),
7401. In addition, the regulations specifically provide only
an administrative remedy for an organization's failure to
comply with public inspection requirements. 26 C.F.R. §
301.6104(d)-1(g). The undersigned therefore concludes that
the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action.
plaintiff asserts no other legal cause of action, or basis
for federal jurisdiction, the undersigned further recommends
that leave to amend not be granted. It is clear from the
allegations in the complaint that federal jurisdiction is not
available, and the ...