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BURGESS v. U.S.
January 29, 2004.
ROBERT J. BURGESS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN FULLAM, Senior District Judge
Plaintiff Robert J. Burgess, who is not represented by counsel, is
suing the United States of America because the Internal Revenue Service
has assessed penalties against him for filing frivolous income tax
returns. Plaintiff seeks an injunction against enforcement of the liens,
and also seeks compensatory and punitive damages.
The case was originally scheduled for trial on December 15, 2003, but
the Government filed a motion for summary judgment on November 19, 2003.
In early December 2003, plaintiff wrote a letter to the Court requesting
a 30-day extension of time for responding to the motion for summary
judgment. This was granted, and the motion for summary judgment was
scheduled for hearing on January 26, 2004. Plaintiff did not appear at
the hearing. Instead, at 6:10 a.m. on the scheduled date, plaintiff
telephoned the clerk's office and left a message to the effect that he
would not be attending the hearing, because he anticipated that the roads
would not be passable because of a snowstorm. There was,
in fact, a light snow fall on that date, but all roads in the area
were open to traffic, all public transportation systems were operative,
the undersigned had no difficulty in reaching the courthouse from an
outlying county, all jurors scheduled for jury trial that day were in
attendance, and counsel for the Government had traveled from Washington,
B.C. to attend the hearing. Accordingly, I permitted Government counsel
to argue in support of its motion for summary judgment, and determined
that no further hearing would be held.
Plaintiff's complaint in this action is, on its face, legally
frivolous. This Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction to entertain a
claim for damages of any kind against the United States government, since
its sovereignty has not been waived for any such claim. To the extent
that the complaint can be regarded as seeking review of the IRS
determination that the tax returns in question were frivolous and
warranted the penalties imposed, it is clear that there is no basis for
vacating the assessments. The returns in question report that the
plaintiff, who is a self-employed electrician, had "zero" income from any
and all possible sources. Read in conjunction with his complaint in this
case, the returns reflect Plaintiff's view that any money he may have
received for services do not constitute "income," and/or that he is not
subject to taxation because he is a free citizen. The IRS did not err in
characterizing these returns as frivolous. The
Government's motion for summary judgment will be granted.
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