Chapter 10: Third Party I.R.S Summons

Quashing a Third-Party I.R.S. Summons

By Seth Maynard

It is possible for the Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) to summon you because it wants assurance that the law is not being broken, or simply because its agents suspect that you may be remiss in filing and paying your taxes. This is supported by the decisions made in United States v. Powell and Donaldson v. United States. The I.R.S. is empowered to carry out this summons by Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.) Sections 7601 through 7655.

The law also recognizes, fortunately, that this process may be abused. In United States v. Powell, supra, 379 U.S. 48 at 57-58, the district court is charged to consider if the investigation, which in this case leads to a summons, has a valid and legitimate purpose and whether or not any documents or materials being demanded are relevant. You, the subject of the summons, may ask about why you are being examined and challenge the purpose and legitimacy of the summons.

To quash this type of summons, several steps need to be taken. First, you may issue a Freedom of Information Act Request to make the I.R.S. justify the reasons why the investigation and summons are being meted out in the first place. After this, you may start preparing for your petition to quash the summons by dropping by the office of the clerk of the United States District Court. A Petition to Quash Internal Revenue Service Summons is accompanied by a Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of the Petition to Quash. This latter document enumerates what the I.R.S. has failed to do in terms of proper administrative procedure in instigating an investigation and issuing a summons against you.

In all your dealings with the clerk of the United States District Court, be courteous, patient and considerate. His cooperation and goodwill would be very helpful to your cause. To file your suit against the I.R.S., you would need copies of the following: Summons in a Civil Action, Civil Cover Sheet, Deposition Subpoena, Subpoena in a Civil Action to Produce Documents, and Local Rules of the Court. The clerk can help you with these and may even be good resource for determining rules and anything new about Court practices.

There are a myriad of steps to take with each form, information to fill out, copies to be made and documents to be served. Each has its own rules, format and timing. It would also be necessary for you to become familiar with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It may be quite overwhelming if this is your first time or if the whole process is not easily understandable to you. Michael S. Ioane’s “Boston Tea Party” tackles these details in its 10th chapter. It also has samples of letters and forms; not to mention a list of what you need to check to complete the Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of the Petition to Quash.

Do not be an easy victim of a possible abuse of the summons process. Arm yourself with know-how and ready-to-use information to get through this difficult process.