United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the court are two motions: Plaintiff Erin-Maureen
Lafferty's motion for default judgment (DJ Mot. (Dkt. #
3)); and Defendants Shelley Smith, Jan Spicer, and John
Koskinen's (collectively, “the
Government”) motion to dismiss Ms. Lafferty's
amended complaint (MTD (Dkt. # 4)). The Government opposes
Ms. Lafferty's motion (Resp. to DJ Mot. (Dkt. # 5)),
whereas Ms. Lafferty failed to respond to the
Government's motion (see Dkt.). The court has
considered the parties' briefing on the motions, the
relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law.
Considering itself fully advised,  the court DENIES as moot Ms.
Lafferty's motion for default judgment, GRANTS the
Government's motion to dismiss, and DISMISSES this case
Lafferty, who is proceeding pro se, challenges the
validity of the IRS's collection of income taxes and a
related tax lien. (See Am. Compl. at 4.) Although
her filings are opaque, she appears to contend that the
IRS's tax collection efforts violate a variety of federal
statutes. (See Id. at 2.) She therefore asks the
court to determine whether “the IRS is in Final
Administrative Default, and has lost its standing to maintain
any semblance of a valid or verified claim” to her
property. (Id.; see also Id. at 4
(“IRS now appears to be unlawfully coercing conversion
of Plaintiff's equity based on inchoate Notices of
Federal Tax liens and levies.”).) To her complaint, Ms.
Lafferty attaches “[a] small portion of over a
decade's worth of paperwork.” (Id. at 2;
see also Id. at 5-30.)
1, 2017, having never had default entered against any
defendant, Ms. Lafferty moved for default judgment on the
basis that the Government had not yet filed a pleading
responsive to her amended complaint. (DJ Mot.) On June 5,
2017, the Government opposed Ms. Lafferty's motion (Resp.
to DJ Mot.) and moved to dismiss her case (MTD). The motions
are now before the court.
Government argues-and Ms. Lafferty fails to refute-that the
court lacks jurisdiction over Ms. Lafferty's claims.
(See MTD at 1-10.) The court agrees. See 26
U.S.C. § 7421(a); 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a). Subject to
certain exceptions not applicable here, the Internal Revenue
Code prohibits suits “for the purpose of restraining
the assessment or collection of any tax.” 26 U.S.C.
§ 7421(a); see also Elias v. Connett, 908 F.2d
521, 523 (9th Cir. 1990) (citing Bob Jones Univ. v.
Simon, 416 U.S. 725, 736-37 (1974)) (confirming that
Section 7421(a) divests the court of jurisdiction). Such
suits cannot “be maintained in any court by any
person.” 26 U.S.C. § 7421(a).
Furthermore, the Declaratory Judgment Act specifically
divests the court of jurisdiction to afford Ms. Lafferty any
declaratory relief. 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a); Hughes v.
United States, 953 F.2d 531, 536-37 (9th Cir. 1992). Ms.
Lafferty's amended complaint challenges the assessment
and collection of a tax and seeks declaratory relief.
(See Am. Compl. at 2-4.) Therefore, 26 U.S.C. §
7421(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a) divest the court of
jurisdiction over her claim. The court accordingly dismisses
Ms. Lafferty's amended complaint.
must not dismiss a pro se complaint without leave to
amend unless “it is absolutely clear that the
deficiencies of the complaint could not be cured by
amendment.” Akhtar v. Mesa, 698 F.3d 1202,
1212 (9th Cir. 2012) (quoting Schucker v. Rockwood,
846 F.2d 1202, 1203 (9th Cir. 1988)). Here, Ms.
Lafferty's complaint, amended complaint, and related
filings demonstrate that her claims are based on an
irredeemably flawed legal theory. Unequivocal precedent makes
it absolutely clear that amendment would be futile. See
Akhtar, 698 F.3d at 1212; Eminence Capital, LLC v.
Aspeon, Inc., 316 F.3d 1048, 1052 (9th Cir. 2003);
see also Balistreri v. Pacifica Police Dep't,
901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1988). The court therefore denies
Ms. Lafferty leave to amend her complaint. Because Ms.
Lafferty's claims are barred “in any court, ”
26 U.S.C. § 7421(a), the court dismisses her claims with
prejudice, see Hovgaard v. I.R.S., No. C-97-3054
VRW, 1997 WL 811764, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 1997)
(“No matter how meritorious [the plaintiff]'s claim
may be, the court therefore lacks the authority to hear it,
and this case must be dismissed with prejudice.”);
cf. Altman v. Fuller, 680 F.Supp. 1435, 1436 (D.
Haw. 1987) (dismissing without prejudice where the plaintiff
had a plausible opportunity to properly refile the suit
following the completion of a separate tax
on the foregoing analysis, the court DENIES as moot Ms.
Lafferty's motion for default judgment (Dkt. # 3), GRANTS
the Government's motion to dismiss (Dkt. # 4), and
DISMISSES the amended complaint with prejudice. Dated this
25th day of July, 2017.
 Ms. Lafferty, who is proceeding
pro se, sues Ms. Smith, Ms. Spicer, and Mr. Koskinen
in their official capacities as officers of the Internal
Revenue Service (“IRS”). (See Am. Compl.
(Dkt. # 2) at 1-2.) “[A] suit against IRS employees in
their official capacity is essentially a suit against the
United States.” Gilbert v. DaGrossa, 756 F.2d
1455, 1458 (9th Cir. ...