Mulder v. New York State Department of Finance
MEMORANDUM & ORDER: Plaintiff's 1 request to proceed in forma pauperis is granted for the purpose of this Order. The Complaint is dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction over this action. The Court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this Order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in forma pauperis status is denied for purpose of an appeal. SO ORDERED by Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis, on 4/25/2012. C/mailed to pro se Plaintiff. (Forwarded for Judgment.) (Latka-Mucha, Wieslawa)
* APR' 2 5 2012
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
-againstTHE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF
T A)(ATION & FINANCE,
NICHOLAS G. GARAUFIS, United States District Judge.
On March 9, 2012, Plaintiff Eric Mulder filed a request to proceed in forma pauperis, but
did not include a complaint. (Mot. (Docket Entry # 1).) The Clerk of Court sent Plaintiff a
deficiency letter and instructions on how to prepare a complaint. (See Clerk's Mar. 9,2012
Notice (Docket Entry # 2).) Plaintiff filed a submission in the form ofa Complaint on April 3,
2012. (Compl. (Docket Entry # 4).) Plaintiff's request to proceed in forma pauperis is granted
for the purpose of this Order. For the reasons set forth below, the action is dismissed.
Plaintiff's one-page Complaint names the New York State Department of Taxation and
Finance as the sole Defendant. (ld.
I.) The Complaint states that "[t]he jurisdiction of the
court is invoked pursuant to (Rule 8)." (Id.
II.) No other basis of jurisdiction is alleged. The
Statement of Claim within the Complaint alleges that Plaintiff was assessed a past due balance
on his New York State taxes, that he did not receive notice of the claim while he was
incarcerated in federal custody, and that the tax bill increased while he was in custody. (ld.
III.) Plaintiff alleges that his wages are being garnished for tax payments. Plaintiff asks the
court to reduce the balance of his tax bill to the amount that he originally owed at the time he
was initially imprisoned. (ld.
The court is mindful that "[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally construed, and a pro
se complaint, however inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers." Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89,94 (2007) (internal quotation
marks and citations omitted). Furthermore, the pleadings must be read liberally and interpreted
as raising the strongest arguments they suggest. McEachin v. McGuinnis, 357 F .3d 197, 200 (2d
Cir. 2004); Burgos v. Hopkins, 14 F.3d 787, 790 (2d Cir. 1994). "The failure in a complaint to
cite a statute, or to cite the correct one, in no way affects the merits of a claim. Factual
allegations alone are what matters." Northrop v. Hoffman of Simsbury, Inc., 134 F.3d 41, 46 (2d
Cir. 1997) (quoting Albert v. Carovano, 851 F.2d 561, 571 n.3 (2d Cir. 1988) (en banc». Ifa
liberal reading of the complaint "gives any indication that a valid claim might be stated," this
court must grant leave to amend the complaint. See Cuoco v. Moritsugu, 222 F.3d 99, 112 (2d
Cir. 2000); Gomez v. USAA Fed. Say. Bank, 171 F.3d 794, 795 (2d Cir. 1999).
However, 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) requires a district court to dismiss a case if the court
determines that the action "(i) is frivolous or malicious; (ii) fails to state a claim on which relief
may be granted; or (iii) seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such
relief." 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B). Moreover, a plaintiff seeking to bring a lawsuit in federal
court must establish that the court has subject matter jurisdiction over the action.
v. Citibank NA, 32 F. Supp. 2d 539, 541-42 (E.D.N.Y. 1999). "[F]ailure of subject matter
jurisdiction is not waivable and may be raised at any time by a party or by the court sua sponte.
If subject matter jurisdiction is lacking, the action must be dismissed." Lyndonville Say. Bank &
Trust Co. v. Lussier, 211 F.3d 697, 700-01 (2d Cir. 2000) (citations omitted); see Fed. R. Civ. P.
12(h)(3). Federal subject matter jurisdiction is available only when-a "federal question" is
presented, or when plaintiffs and defendants have complete diversity of citizenship and the
amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. See 28 U.S.c. §§ 1331, 1332. "Federal question
jurisdiction may be properly invoked only if the plaintiffs complaint necessarily draws into
question the interpretation or application of federal law." State of New York v. White, 528 F.2d
336, 338 (2d Cir. 1975).
Plaintiffs Complaint does not assert any valid basis for this court's jurisdiction over his
claims. His allegations do not allege the violation of any federal law or constitutional right nor
otherwise suggest any basis for federal question jurisdiction. There is no diversity jurisdiction,
as Plaintiff states that he resides in New York, and Defendant is a New York State agency. As
Plaintiff neither raises a question of federal law, nor asserts diversity jurisdiction, there is no
basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction over this action.
The court notes further that "[t]he Tax Injunction Act and principles of comity preclude a
party from pursuing any legal or equitable challenge to state tax laws and policies in federal
court if a plain, adequate, and complete remedy may be had in state court." Dourlain v. Comm'r
of Taxation and Fin., 133 Fed. App'x 765,767,2005 WL 1161389, at *1 (2d Cir. 2005) (internal
quotation marks and citations omitted); see 28 U.S.C. § 1341. The United States Supreme Court
has held that New York law does indeed afford a "plain, speedy and efficient means" to address
constitutional challenges to state tax actions. Tully v. Griffin, Inc., 429 U.S. 68, 76-77 (1976).
Consequently, even if Plaintiff were alleging a claim that raised a federal question, the court
would likely be required to refrain from considering his case.
For the reasons set forth above, the Complaint is dismissed for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction over this action. Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). The court certifies pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a)(3) that any appeal from this order would not be taken in good faith and therefore in
forma pauperis status is denied for purpose of an appeal. See Coppedge v. United States. 369
U.S. 438. 444-45. 82 S. Ct. 917.920 (1962).
Dated: Brooklyn. New York
April .J..S:.... 2012
NICHOLA G. GARAUF
United States District Judge
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