Fallen v. IRS Department of Treasury
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER granting 19 MOTION for Summary Judgment ; entering judgment in favor of the defendant;directing clerk to close this case. Signed by Judge Paul W. Grimm on 5/22/2017. (c/m 5/22/2017 aos, Deputy Clerk)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
Case No.: PWG-16-1578
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiff Di’Onna Fallen seeks refunds that she claimed on her 2005 and 2010 federal tax
returns. Compl., ECF No. 1. The United States disputes her entitlement to either of the
requested refunds and has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 19. The Motion is
fully briefed, Def.’s Mem., ECF No. 19-1; Pl.’s Opp’n ECF No. 21; Def.’s Reply, ECF No. 22,
and no hearing is necessary, Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.). Because the statute of limitations has
expired for the 2005 claim and because Fallen has failed to provide any evidence supporting her
right to the tax credit that was the basis for her 2010 claim, I will grant the United States’
Standard of Review
Summary judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates, through “particular
parts of materials in the record, including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . . , admissions, interrogatory answers, or
other materials,” that “there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a), (c)(1)(A); see also Baldwin v.
City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833 (4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment
demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the nonmoving party’s case, the burden shifts to
the nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a genuine dispute exists as to material
facts. See Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 585–87 & n.10
(1986). The existence of only a “scintilla of evidence” is not enough to defeat a motion for
summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251–52 (1986). Instead, the
evidentiary materials submitted must show facts from which the finder of fact reasonably could
find for the party opposing summary judgment. Id.
In April 2013, Plaintiff Di’Onna Fallen filed tax returns with the Internal Revenue
Service (“IRS”) for tax years 2005 through 2012, inclusive. Pl.’s Resp. to Def.’s Interrog. No. 4,
Defs.’ Mot. Ex. A, at 2, ECF No. 19-4.1 She claimed a $4,129.00 refund on her 2005 return and
a $2,267.12 refund on her 2010 return. 2005 Form 1040EZ, Def.’s Mot. Ex. A., at 5; see also
2010 Form 1040, Def.’s Mot. Ex. A, at 12 (claiming $2,094 refund); 2010 Notice CP21B, Def.’s
Mot. Ex. A., at 9 (calculating refund due as $2,267.12 based on information Fallen provided on
her 2010 Form 1040A). The IRS denied the requested refunds for both years. See Letter from
Internal Revenue Serv., to Di’Onna Fallen (July 30, 2013), Def.’s Mot. Ex. A, at 7.2 After
struggling to appeal those denials, Fallen filed suit in this Court.
The United States argues that Fallen’s 2005 refund claim is time-barred. Def.’s Mem. 3.
A taxpayer must file a refund claim with the IRS “within 3 years from the time the return”
Fallen indicates that she also filed a 2013 tax return in April 2013, id., but that seems unlikely,
as the 2013 tax year had just begun at that time. In any event, that disputed fact is immaterial to
The documents filed with the Complaint and the Defendant’s Motion only contain a letter from
the I.R.S. explicitly denying Fallen’s 2005 refund claim, but the United States does not dispute
that it has denied Fallen’s 2010 claim.
associated with the refund claim is filed or within “2 years from the time the tax” from which the
refund is sought was paid, whichever date is later. 26 U.S.C. § 6511(a). For claims within the
three-year limitations period, the taxpayer’s recovery is limited to money paid on the tax in
question in the three years prior to the claim. Id. § 6511(b)(2)(a).
The only taxes that Fallen paid in 2005 were taxes withheld from her paycheck. 2005
Certificate of Assessments, Payments, and Other Matters, Def.’s Mot. Ex. B, ECF No. 19-5.
Withheld taxes are deemed to have been paid on April 15 of the year following the tax year in
which they are withheld. See 26 U.S.C. § 6513(b)(1). Thus, Fallen’s 2005 taxes were paid on
April 15, 2006. Fallen filed her 2005 refund claim when she filed that year’s return in April
2013. Accordingly, because she paid her 2005 taxes more than three years before she filed her
refund claim, she is not able to recover a refund for that tax year.
See 26 U.S.C. §
6511(b)(2)(A). Fallen believes that the statute of limitations for refund claims is unfair because a
longer limitations period applies to the federal government’s efforts to recover unpaid taxes from
taxpayers. Pl.’s Opp’n 2. Fair or unfair, that is law and must be applied.
The United States concedes that Fallen made a timely claim for a 2010 refund; however,
it argues that she has failed to demonstrate her entitlement to a refund for that year. Def.’s Mem.
4–5. As “tax credits and deductions are a matter of legislative grace, taxpayers bear the burden
of proving entitlement to the credits they claim on their returns.” Norfolk S. Crop. v. C.I.R., 140
F.3d 240, 244 (4th Cir. 1998) (citing INDOPCO, Inc. v. Comm’r, 503 U.S. 79, 84 (1992). On
her 2010 return, Fallen claimed that she was entitled to a $2,4383 credit under the American
Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC), see 2010 Form 1040, ll. 49, 66, Def.’s Mot. Ex. A, at 12, which
provides tax relief associated with higher-education costs, American Opportunity Tax Credit,
The United States miscalculates the total amount associated with the AOTC as $2,483, Def.’s
Mem. 2, 4, but the miscalculation makes no difference to the analysis.
Internal Revenue Serv., https://www.irs.gov/individuals/aotc (Jan. 29, 2017). To be eligible for
the AOTC, a taxpayer must (1) not have claimed the credit in more than the three previous years;
(2) have been enrolled in a degree-granting program during the tax year; (3) have been at least a
half-time student during the tax year; (4) have completed less than four years of higher
education; and (5) not have a felony drug conviction. 26 U.S.C. § 25A(b)(2), (i)(3).
Fallen has not produced any evidence that she meets any of the five requirements that she
must have met in order to have been entitled to the AOTC in 2010. Thus, Fallen is not entitled to
a refund for tax year 2010.
Accordingly, for the reasons stated, it is this 22nd day of May, 2017, hereby ORDERED
1. Defendant’s Motions for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 19, IS GRANTED;
2. Judgment IS ENTERED in favor of the Defendant;
3. The Clerk SHALL CLOSE the case.
Paul W. Grimm
United States District Judge
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