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United States v. Buckardt

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

October 31, 2019

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff,
v.
ELMER J. BUCKARDT, et. al., Defendants.

          ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS

          HONORABLE RICHARD A. JONES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. # 12). For the reasons that follow, the Court DENIES Defendants' Motion.

         II. BACKGROUND

         The following is taken from the Government's Complaint, which is assumed to be true for the purposes of this motion to dismiss, as well as other documents that have been judicially noticed as noted below. Sanders v. Brown, 504 F.3d 903, 910 (9th Cir. 2007). The parties in this action appear to have a lengthy history, beginning as early as 2000, when the Government began assessing tax liabilities against Defendant Elmer Buckardt (“Mr. Buckardt”) for unpaid federal income taxes. Dkt. # 18 at 4. In 2002, Mr. Buckardt filed a petition in Tax Court contesting the IRS' notice of deficiency for income tax year 2002. Dkt. # 18-2, Ex. 16.[1] The Tax Court subsequently found Mr. Buckardt liable for a deficiency in federal income taxes and penalties and cautioned him against advancing frivolous and groundless arguments. Dkt. # 18-2, Ex. 21. And so it continued. Over the next several years, the Government continued to assess tax liabilities against Mr. Buckardt and Mr. Buckardt continued to file petitions contesting the IRS' notices of deficiency. See Dkt. # 18-2, Exs. 16, 19-21, 24.

         Most recently, on October 10, 2017, Mr. Buckardt filed another petition in Tax Court alleging that he never received notices of deficiency or notices of determination for tax years 2000-2015. Dkt. # 18-1, Ex. C. In response, the IRS moved to dismiss Mr. Buckardt's petition for lack of jurisdiction. Dkt. # 12-1 at 6. The Tax Court granted the motion to dismiss, noting that the IRS had not issued a notice of deficiency or notice of determination for tax years 2000-2015, within the timeframe sufficient to confer jurisdiction. Dkt. # 12-1 at 2.

         On January 11, 2019, the Government filed a Complaint against Elmer Buckardt, Karen Buckardt, the D'Skell Agape Society, and Snohomish County, asking the Court to: (1) reduce the outstanding tax assessments against Mr. Buckardt to judgments, (2) set aside transfers of two of the Buckardt's properties to the D'Skell Agape Society, (3) foreclose federal tax liens on the properties, and (4) sell the properties. Dkt. # 1.

         Defendants Elmer Buckardt, Karen Buckardt, and the D'Skell Agape Society (collectively the “Defendants”) subsequently moved to dismiss this action for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. Dkt. # 12. The Government opposes the Motion. Dkt. # 18.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal courts are tribunals of limited jurisdiction and may only hear cases authorized by the Constitution or a statutory grant. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). The burden of establishing subject-matter jurisdiction rests upon the party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction. Id. Once it is determined that a federal court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court has no choice but to dismiss the suit. Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Defendants appear to assert three arguments in support of their two-page Motion to Dismiss: (1) the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action, (2) the IRS cannot assert any liens or levies against Defendants because the Tax Court previously concluded that no statutory notices of deficiency or determination were filed against Defendants, and (3) 26 U.S.C. §7608(a) deprives the Court of jurisdiction.

         A. The Court Has Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over This Action

         Defendants argue that the Court lacks jurisdiction over this matter because a Tax Court decision dismissing Defendant Elmer Buckardt's petition for lack of jurisdiction applies in this action and precludes the Court from ...


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