The Tax Division handles all civil tax litigation involving the federal government in the Central District of California, other than in the Tax Court. The Tax Division also handles prosecution of certain criminal tax violations.
AUSAs in the Tax Division represent the government in federal and state civil actions and proceedings in which the IRS is involved or where the defendant is an IRS officer or employee sued for official acts. Tax Division AUSAs appear before the United States District Court, the United States Bankruptcy Court, the United States Bankruptcy Appellate Panel, and the state courts.
Tax Division AUSAs handle a variety of civil tax cases and matters, including suits for refund of income, employment, excise, estate and gift taxes; suits to collect delinquent tax liabilities and to foreclose federal tax liens (including fraudulent conveyance actions); adversary proceedings and contested matters in bankruptcy (including objections to tax claims, objections to confirmation of Chapter 11 and 13 reorganization plans and complaints to determine dischargeability of debt and for turnover of property); actions to enforce IRS summonses; suits for summary review of jeopardy and termination assessments; suits to recover wrongfully levied property; suits for damages for failure to release levy and wrongful collection activity; suits against IRS employees for constitutional torts; actions affecting property in which the United States claims a tax lien (including actions in interpleader, eminent domain and for partition); and probate proceedings. Tax Division AUSAs also handle a variety of criminal tax prosecutions, including tax evasion and the filing of false tax returns.
Thomas Coker graduated with honors from John Marshall Law School in Chicago, Illinois, after receiving a Master’s in Business Education from DePaul University. Upon graduating from law school, Mr. Coker was hired by the U.S. Department of Treasury, IRS, under the Honors Program. From 1985 to 1988, Mr. Coker was a trial attorney with the IRS Office of Chief Counsel in Los Angeles. During that time, he successfully represented the government in the United States Tax Court in numerous cases including, Vallone v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, McKay v. C.I.R., Clausman v. Commissioner, and Finkelman v. Commissioner. In 1988, Mr. Coker joined the Tax Division of this office. Prior to being appointed Chief, Mr. Coker was the Deputy Chief for Civil and Bankruptcy matters in the Tax Division.
In his tenure in the office, Mr. Coker has successfully litigated a wide variety of civil and bankruptcy tax matters, which have resulted in significant published appellate decisions, including Andersen v. United States, 298 F.3d 804 (9th Cir. 2002); PCCE, Inc. v. United States, 159 F.3d 425 (9th Cir. 1998); Han v. United States, 944 F.2d 526 (9th Cir. 1991); Fidelity National Title Insurance Co., 907 F.2d 868 (9th Cir. 1990); and In re Sun World Intern., Inc., 17 B.R. 281 (C.D.Cal.,1998), as well as the successful defense a matter of first impression involving a $5 million tax refund claim in a qui tam action under the False Claims Act in Alderson v. United States, 686 F.3d 791 (9th Cir. 2012). Most recently, in another civil case of first impression in the Ninth Circuit, Mr. Coker obtained a decision affirming a $3.5 million jeopardy assessment issued by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) of the Department of Treasury against Starbuzz Tobacco, a manufacturer of tobacco products. Mr. Coker has also litigated a number of significant criminal tax cases, including convictions of Motown greats Norman Whitfield and Ronald Isley, and the successful defense of the issue of a district court’s jurisdiction of fugitive status while on probation in United States v. Grant, 727 F.3d 928 (9th Cir. 2013).
The United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California
300 North Los Angeles Street
Los Angeles, California 90012