Appeal raises ire of 7th Circuit

August 10, 2015

A southern Indiana couple who tried to stop the sale of their property to satisfy delinquent state and federal taxes was unsuccessful. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals described the merits of their appeal as “feeble.”

Dennis Williams has more than $1.3 million in tax deficiencies assessed against him by the Internal Revenue Service, the state of Indiana and Clark County. To satisfy the debt, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana ordered the property that Williams owns with his wife, Leslie Ann, be sold and the receipts be divided among the U.S., the state, the county and Leslie.

The 7th Circuit affirmed the order in United States of America v. Dennis R. Williams and Leslie Ann Williams and Indiana Department of Revenue and Clark County, Indiana, 13-2359.

At times, the panel seemed to be exasperated by the Williams’ arguments on appeal.

The couple first asserted the suit should be dismissed because the U.S. secretary of the treasury must authorize the recovery of taxes and the attorney general must direct the action be commenced.

In response, the U.S. filed a declaration, signed by an IRS official, stating the secretary’s delegate had authorized the suit.

“The Williamses did not offer any contrary evidence,” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote for the court. “Nor did they contend that there are logical or factual flaws in the assessments. The Williamses deny liability but sat on their hands in court. The district court rightly concluded that this will not do.”

Also, the 7th Circuit was frustrated by the couple’s contention they did not receive adequate notice of the deficiencies. Again, the U.S. supplied evidence that notice was given.

“To this the Williamses replied by denying that their records contained any relevant notices. That’s evasive,” Easterbrook wrote. “Their records would be empty if they never picked up their mail or if, after receiving the notices, they threw them away. But people who receive formal notices cannot avoid liability by not opening the envelopes, or throwing the contents away after realizing that they bring unwelcome news.”




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