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Taylor v. IRS, No. 18-2666, 2021 WL 4148343 (D.D.C. Sept. 13, 2021) (Chutkan, J.)


Taylor v. IRS, No. 18-2666, 2021 WL 4148343 (D.D.C. Sept. 13, 2021) (Chutkan, J.)

Re:  Request for certain tax penalty documents, as well as for certain tax documents concerning plaintiff

Disposition:  Granting defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's two motions for clarification

  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declaration & Litigation Considerations:  "The court denies Plaintiff's motions."  Regarding a numbering dispute, the court finds that "[a]lthough [defendant's] and the court's designations differ from Plaintiff's numerical designations, a reader can match each item of Plaintiff's original FOIA request to the corresponding item described in Defendant's supporting declarations and Statements of Undisputed Material Facts."  "Plaintiff's chart proves this point."  "Furthermore, Plaintiff is mistaken if he construes the [court's prior] October 22, 2020, ruling as an order directing the IRS to release particular information."  "Rather, the court concluded that Defendant had not met its burden on summary judgment, and by denying summary judgment in part without prejudice, the court gave Defendant a second opportunity to justify its responses to the unresolved items of the February, May and August Requests."
  • Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search:  "The court concludes that the IRS conducted reasonable searches for records responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA requests and released those records in full."  The court relates that, previously, "[it] denied Defendant's summary judgment motion in part without prejudice."  The court explains that "[i]t was not clear from Defendant's prior submissions that release in full of the penalty files included release of the underlying income tax returns."  "Nor was it clear that Forms 8278 and 12775, requested in item (iv) of the February Request and item (f) of the August Request, would have been released with the penalty files."  The court finds that "[t]he IRS need only conduct a search reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents."  "Insofar as Plaintiff demands information pertaining to penalties assessed for income tax documents deemed frivolous by the IRS, Defendant adequately explains that penalty-related information would be maintained in penalty assessment files and that a search for such files is conducted in ['an electronic system . . . of databases and operating programs that support [IRS] employees working active tax cases within each business function across the entire organization'] using a taxpayer's Social Security number and the Command Codes [defendant] identified."  "[Defendant] did so, retrieved the records, and the IRS released these penalty files in full – as they exist – for tax years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2015."  The court finds that "Defendant released Plaintiff's income tax returns in response to the court's interpretation of Plaintiff's objection to Defendant's prior motion for summary judgment."  "If Plaintiff sought records deemed frivolous by the IRS, and those frivolous records could include actual income tax returns, then Plaintiff's requests would encompass not only penalty files but also the income tax returns themselves."  "Even though Plaintiff denies having requested income tax returns specifically, he has no cause to complain that the IRS released the returns pursuant to the court's October 22, 2020, Memorandum Opinion and Order."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Adequacy of Search
Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declarations
Updated October 13, 2021