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Smart-Tek Serv. v. IRS, No. 15-0449, 2018 WL 4613129 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 25, 2018) (Moskowitz, J.)


Smart-Tek Serv. v. IRS, No. 15-0449, 2018 WL 4613129 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 25, 2018) (Moskowitz, J.)

Re:  Requests for records concerning series of liens filed against plaintiff

Disposition:  Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment; granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's motion for summary judgent

  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  The court holds that "[t]he IRS's search in response to Plaintiff's FOIA request was adequate."  The court relates that "[t]he IRS has submitted 'reasonably detailed, nonconclusory' affidavits that show 'what records were searched, by whom, and through what process.'"  "The IRS's declarations indicate how the IRS interpreted Plaintiff's request and its criteria to determine which documents from the 65 boxes were responsive to Plaintiff's request."
  • Procedural Requirements:  The court rejects "Plaintiff[s] argu[ment] that if the IRS has determined that Plaintiff and another taxpayer are alter egos, and therefore one entity, then the IRS cannot reasonably exclude the other taxpayer's documents as 'non-responsive' to Plaintiff's FOIA request."  "As an initial matter, the Court finds that Plaintiff did not actually request the return information of alter ego entities."  However, "[e]ven if Plaintiff had sufficiently stated the scope of its request, 26 U.S.C. § 6103 specifically protects a taxpayer's identity as confidential 'return information.'"  "The Court is persuaded by the IRS's argument that businesses treated as separate entities for tax assessment purposes are also separate entities for disclosure purposes."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Procedural Requirements, Supplemental to Main Categories
Updated November 19, 2021