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Whittington v. United States

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

September 22, 2014

SCOTT and SHERI WHITTINGTON, Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

BENJAMIN H. SETTLE, District Judge.

This matter comes before the Court on Defendant United States of America's ("Government") motion for summary judgment (Dkt. 14). The Court has considered the pleadings and the remainder of the file and hereby grants the motion for the reasons stated herein.

I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

On February 7, 2014, Plaintiffs Scott Whittington ("Scott") and Sheri Whittington ("Sheri") filed virtually identical suits against the Government under 26 U.S.C. § 7431. C14-5117, Dkt. 1; C14-5118, Dkt. 1. Scott and Sheri allege that the IRS wrongfully disclosed their respective tax return information in violation of 26 U.S.C. § 6103(a). C14-5117, Dkt. 1; C14-5118, Dkt. 1.

On May 21, 2014, the Court consolidated the two suits. Dkt. 11.

On July 15, 2014, the Government moved for summary judgment. Dkt. 14. Scott and Sheri did not respond.

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Scott and Sheri are married and reside in Washington, a community property state. Dkt. 15, Declaration of Patrick E. McGuire ("McGuire Dec.") at 2.

Between 2006 and 2009, Scott did not file individual income tax returns. Id. Unlike her husband, Sheri filed income tax returns between 2006 and 2009. Id. at 3. Sheri reported the income she earned, but did not report her one-half share of Scott's income. Id.

In January 2010, the IRS audited Scott's income tax liabilities for the 2006 through 2009 tax years. Id. at 3. The IRS determined that Scott was liable for the income tax on his unreported income, as well as his one-half share of Sheri's income. Id. Based on these determinations, the IRS sent a deficiency notice to Scott on October 23, 2012. Dkt. 16, Declaration of Michael Hatzimichalis ("Hatzimichalis Dec."), Ex. 1. The notice disclosed Sheri's one-half share of marital income. Id.

The IRS also audited Sheri's income tax liabilities for the 2006 through 2009 tax years. McGuire Dec. at 3. The IRS determined that Sheri was liable for the income tax on her one-half share of Scott's income. Hatzimichalis Dec., Ex. 2. Based on these determinations, the IRS sent a deficiency notice to Sheri on October 23, 2012. Id. The notice disclosed the IRS's determinations regarding Scott's one-half share of marital income. Id.

On January 23, 2013, Scott and Sheri filed petitions to redetermine their proposed tax deficiencies with the U.S. Tax Court. Scott A. Whittington v. Comm'r, No. 002060-13; Sheri L. Whittington v. Comm'r, No. 002061-13. On December 4, 2013, the IRS sent Sheri trial exhibits. See Hatzimichalis Dec., Ex. 6. The trial exhibits included bank records and evidence of Scott's income. Id. On December 5, 2013, the IRS sent Scott trial exhibits. See Hatzimichalis Dec., Ex. 10. The exhibits included bank records and evidence of Sheri's income, including her tax returns. Id.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment ...


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