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Napoli v. Department of Treasury Internal Revenue Service

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

October 30, 2019




         This matter is before the Court upon the motion of pro se plaintiff Monica Napoli for leave to commence this action without prepayment of the required filing fee. Having reviewed the financial information submitted in support, the Court will grant the motion and the filing fee will be waived. See 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a)(1). For the reasons explained below, the Court will order plaintiff to show cause as to why this case should not be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         Legal Standard on Initial Review

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2), the Court is required to dismiss a complaint filed in forma pauperis if it is frivolous, is malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief against a defendant who is immune from such relief. To state a claim for relief, a complaint must plead more than “legal conclusions” and “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action [that are] supported by mere conclusory statements.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff must demonstrate a plausible claim for relief, which is more than a “mere possibility of misconduct.” Id. at 679. “A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Id. at 678. Determining whether a complaint states a plausible claim for relief is a context-specific task that requires the reviewing court to draw on its judicial experience and common sense. Id. at 679.

         When reviewing a pro se complaint under 28 U.S.C. § 1915, the Court accepts the well-plead facts as true, White v. Clark, 750 F.2d 721, 722 (8th Cir. 1984), and liberally construes the complaint. Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520 (1972). A “liberal construction” means that if the essence of an allegation is discernible, the district court should construe the plaintiff's complaint in a way that permits his or her claim to be considered within the proper legal framework. Solomon v. Petray, 795 F.3d 777, 787 (8th Cir. 2015). However, even pro se complaints are required to allege facts which, if true, state a claim for relief as a matter of law. Martin v. Aubuchon, 623 F.2d 1282, 1286 (8th Cir. 1980). See also Stone v. Harry, 364 F.3d 912, 914-15 (8th Cir. 2004) (refusing to supply additional facts or to construct a legal theory for the pro se plaintiff that assumed facts that had not been pleaded).

         The Complaint

         Plaintiff Monica Napoli brings this civil case against one defendant, “Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, ” alleging that defendant owes her $6, 547.00. ECF No. 1 at 1-2 & 4. Plaintiff states as follows:

The Plaintiff's 2018 Federal Income Tax Return was filed and accepted by the Internal Revenue Service on February 27, 2019. The Plaintiff has requested of the Internal Revenue Service why the tax return refund was being held and the Internal Revenue Service has not given any reason whatsoever why the tax return refund has not been issued to the taxpayer. The Plaintiff is in dire need of the refund having two young children and prays that a judgment be rendered against the defendant.

Id. at 5.

         For relief, plaintiff requests $25, 000 in damages for “careless and reckless behavior in holding her refund 5 months for no reason.” Id.


         Unless Congress has specifically authorized an agency of the federal government, such as the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), to be sued in its own name, an action may not be maintained against that agency. See Blackmar v. Guerre, 342 U.S. 512, 515 (1952). Congress has not specifically authorized suit against the IRS. Therefore, it is not a suable entity. See, e.g., Higgins v. U.S., 2003 WL 21693717 at *1 (E.D. N.Y. May 27, 2003) (holding that IRS was not subject to suit in its own name); Frasier v. Hegeman, 607 F.Supp. 318, 322 (N.D. N.Y. 1985) (holding that a suit against the IRS is a suit against the United States); Krouse v. U.S. Gov't Treasury Dep't IRS, 380 F.Supp. 219, 221 (C.D. Cal. 1974) (holding that the Department of the Treasury and the IRS are not entities subject to suit). “District courts lack subject-matter jurisdiction over claims against the Government to which Congress has not consented.” Miller v. Tony & Susan Alamo Found., 134 F.3d 910, 915-16 (8th Cir. 1998). Because the IRS cannot be subject to suit, a case against the agency must be dismissed because this Court does not have jurisdiction over the claims.

         Even if plaintiff had filed suit against the proper defendant, the United States, the Court notes that it appears that plaintiff has failed to exhaust her administrative remedies with respect to her claim. Pursuant to § 7422 of Title 26 of the United States Code, a taxpayer may only file suit for a refund after the taxpayer has filed an administrative claim for a refund. 26 U.S.C. § 7422(a).[1] If the administrative claim is denied, the taxpayer may then file a tax refund suit in the district court, but only within the time constraints provided in 26 U.S.C. §6532(a)(1). Compliance with these requirements is jurisdictionally required of the taxpayer before initiating the lawsuit.

         In the instant case, the complaint fails to state any facts to meet the jurisdictional requirements of the statute.[2] Plaintiff states that she “requested” the IRS tell her why she has not received her refund, but she does not assert that she has filed a timely claim for a refund. See ECF No. 1 at 5. Thus, to the extent that this case can be construed as a refund action, this Court appears to lack subject matter jurisdiction to decide the claim. In light of the aforementioned, plaintiff will be required to ...

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