United States Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit
Reginald L. Ivy, Appellant
Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service, Appellee
November 21, 2017
from the United States District Court for the District of
Columbia (No. 1:15-cv-01976)
Crum, appointed by the court, argued the cause as amicus
curiae in support of appellant. With him on the briefs was
Brian D. Netter.
Reginald L. Ivy, pro se, filed the briefs for appellant.
A. Carpenter, Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, argued
the cause for appellee. With him on the brief was Joan I.
Before: Henderson, Circuit Judge, and Williams and Ginsburg,
Senior Circuit Judges.
WILLIAMS SENIOR CIRCUIT JUDGE.
provision of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, 26 U.S.C. §
7433(a), provides for a civil action against the United
States if a taxpayer suffers damages as a result of reckless,
negligent or intentional disregard of the Code or regulations
"in connection with any collection of Federal tax"
with respect to that taxpayer. Appellant Reginald L. Ivy
invokes § 7433(a) to recover damages he claims to have
suffered as a result of a mix-up relating to the refund due
him on his 2011 income tax. Because the statute waives the
government's sovereign immunity only for damages suffered
in connection with collection of federal taxes, and
Ivy's injury (if any) related to collection of a student
loan debt, § 7433(a) provides no jurisdictional path for
Ivy's suit; we affirm the district court's dismissal
of his case.
underlying tangles begin with Ivy's defaulting on a
student loan, prompting the Missouri Department of Higher
Education to notify him in August 2009 that any federal tax
refunds to which he might become entitled would be used first
to pay off his past-due debt. Ivy for a time pursued a course
that mooted this threat; for the 2010-12 tax years, he
didn't file timely tax returns.
while Ivy remained off the radar, someone else- evidently a
practitioner of identity theft-filed a 2011 tax return in
Ivy's name, claiming a tax refund of $1, 822. The IRS
certified the matter to the Fiscal Service (a separate bureau
within the Department of the Treasury that was formerly known
as the Financial Management Service) for disbursement of the
claimed refund. The Fiscal Service, aware of Ivy's
"past-due legally enforceable debt, " 26 U.S.C.
§ 6402(d), sent the $1, 822 to the Department of
Education (which, as reinsurer, had taken over the loan after
Ivy defaulted). The Department of Education then reduced
Ivy's outstanding loan balance by the amount of the
claimed refund. Up to this point, the errors worked in favor
of Ivy to the tune of $1, 822.
a year later, in August 2013, Ivy tended to his student loan
debt. He consolidated his loan through one of the federal
government's direct loan programs and, as a result, no
longer owed any past-due federal debts. In the next month, he
belatedly filed his 2011 tax return, claiming a $634 refund.
accordingly set out to unscramble the actions taken in
response to the imposter's filing, specifically the $1,
822 windfall that had flowed to Ivy. It instructed the Fiscal
Service to reduce the amount that had previously been applied
to Ivy's student loan balance by $1, 188-the difference
between the refund claimed by the imposter ($1, 822) and the
refund claimed by Ivy ($634).
responded by suing the IRS, seeking damages (including the
$634) and expenses. He claimed that the federal government
had no right to withhold the $634 because, at the time he
belatedly filed his 2011 return and sought a refund, he was
no longer subject to a past-due debt that could trigger the
offset provisions of § 6402(d).
extent that Ivy's complaint can be read as seeking a
refund of $634, all parties agree that any such claim is now
moot. During the pendency of this appeal, the IRS directed
the Fiscal Service to pay Ivy ...