112 T.C. 19 (T.C. 1999), 6385-98, Woodral v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

Docket Nº:6385-98
Citation:112 T.C. 19, 112 T.C. No. 3
Opinion Judge:VASQUEZ, JUDGE.
Party Name:WILLIAM AND HELEN WOODRAL, Petitioners v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondent
Attorney:Robert C. Platt, for petitioners. Usha Ravi and Ronald G. Dong, for respondent.
Case Date:January 12, 1999
Court:United States Tax Court

Page 19

112 T.C. 19 (T.C. 1999)

112 T.C. No. 3

WILLIAM AND HELEN WOODRAL, Petitioners

v.

COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondent

No. 6385-98

United States Tax Court

January 12, 1999

Decision will be entered for respondent.

SYLLABUS

Ps submitted to the IRS a request for abatement of interest relating to employment taxes. R issued to Ps a notice of final determination not to abate interest. Ps filed a petitioner for review of R's failure to abate interest.

HELD: R's failure to abate the assessments of interest under sec. 6404(a), I.R.C., was not an abuse of discretion.

HELD, FURTHER: Sec. 6404(e)(1), I.R.C., does not authorize R to abate assessments of interest on employment taxes; therefore, R's failure to abate the assessments of interest under sec. 6404(e), I.R.C., was not an abuse of discretion.

Robert C. Platt, for petitioners.

Usha Ravi and Ronald G. Dong, for respondent.

OPINION

VASQUEZ, JUDGE.

On March 26, 1998, the Commissioner issued a notice of final determination denying petitioners' claim to abate interest. Petitioners timely filed a petition under section 6404(g) [1] and Rule 280. Unless otherwise indicated, all section references are to the Internal Revenue Code as amended, and all Rule references are to the Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure.

The issue for decision is whether the Commissioner committed an abuse of discretion under section 6404 by failing to abate assessments of interest relating to employment taxes.

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BACKGROUND

Some of the facts have been stipulated and are so found. The stipulation of facts and the attached exhibits are incorporated herein by this reference. At the time they filed their petition, petitioners resided in Ceres, California.

During 1988, petitioner [2] and his brother Robert Woodral were general partners in a partnership known as Woody's Transport (the partnership). On July 17, 1988, the partnership dissolved. Under the agreement to dissolve the partnership, Robert Woodral agreed to pay any existing tax liabilities.

On March 30, 1989, respondent received an Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return (Form 940) for the period ending December 31, 1988, from Woody's Transport showing an unpaid tax liability of 295. [3] On May 8, 1989, the tax liability of 295 and an interest liability of 10 were assessed.

On May 11, 1989, respondent received an Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return (Form 941) for the period ending June 30, 1988, from Woody's Transport showing an unpaid tax liability of 30,785. On June 26, 1989, the tax liability of 30,785 and an interest liability of 3,967 were assessed. On September 4, 1989, based on a corrected tax return received by respondent, the assessed, unpaid tax liability was reduced from 30,785 to 8,258, and 2,608 of interest was abated.

Robert Woodral filed the Forms 940 and 941. At the time he filed the returns, he did not pay the taxes that were owing. Robert Woodral never informed petitioner that there were any outstanding tax liabilities.

In or about July of 1995, petitioner received a Final Notice (Notice of Intent to Levy) dated July 20, 1995, from respondent. This was the first notification petitioner received that the partnership owed any tax or that he was liable for any of it.

On February 15, 1996, petitioner paid the 295 and 8,258 tax liabilities. Petitioner did not pay the interest attributable to either of the tax liabilities.

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On December 2, 1996, petitioners filed a petition (the 1996 petition) with the Court requesting the abatement of penalties and interest relating to employment taxes for the taxable periods ending June 30 and December 31, 1988 (the 1988 employment taxes). On March 3, 1997, respondent received a Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement (Form 843) from petitioners.

On March 17, 1998, respondent filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction (motion to dismiss) the 1996 petition on the grounds that a notice of final determination not to abate interest (notice of final determination) on the 1988 employment taxes had not been issued to petitioners.

On March 26, 1998, the Commissioner issued a notice of final determination to petitioners related to the 1988 employment taxes. The Commissioner denied petitioners' request for abatement.

On April 3, 1998, petitioners opposed respondent's motion to dismiss and lodged with the Court a first amended petition for review of failure to abate interest under section 6404 (the amended petition).

In an order dated April 9, 1998, the Court granted respondent's motion to dismiss the 1996 petition. Furthermore, we ordered the amended petition be filed as petitioners' petition for review of failure to abate interest under section 6404, and we ordered the portion of the amended petition that seeks an abatement of penalties be stricken for lack of jurisdiction. [4]

DISCUSSION

Respondent argues (1) to the extent that petitioners' claim for abatement of interest arises under section 6404(a), the Court lacks jurisdiction to review respondent's denial of that claim, (2) if the Court concludes that it has jurisdiction over petitioners' claim under section 6404(a), there was no abuse of discretion under section 6404(a) because the assessments of interest were not excessive in amount, assessed after the expiration of the period of limitations, or erroneously or illegally assessed, and (3) there was no abuse of discretion

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under section 6404(e) because the Commissioner is not authorized under section 6404(e)(1) to abate interest assessed with respect to employment taxes. Petitioners contend that the Court has jurisdiction pursuant to section 6404(g), and the Commissioner committed an abuse of discretion by failing to abate the interest under either section 6404(a) or (e).

In construing section 6404, our task is to give effect to the intent of Congress. We begin with the statutory language, which is the most persuasive evidence of the statutory purpose. United States v. American Trucking Associations, Inc., 310 U.S. 534, 542-543, 84 L.Ed. 1345, 60 S.Ct. 1059 (1940); Hospital Corp. of Am. v. Commissioner, 107 T.C. 116, 128 (1996). Phrases must be construed in light of the overall purpose and structure of the whole statutory scheme. Dole v. United Steelworkers of Am., 494 U.S. 26, 35, 108 L.Ed.2d 23, 110 S.Ct. 929 (1990).

The plain meaning of statutory language ordinarily is conclusive. United States v. Ron Pair Enters., Inc., 489 U.S. 235, 241-242, 103 L.Ed.2d 290, 109 S.Ct. 1026 (1989); Hospital Corp. of Am. v. Commissioner, supra. If the language of a statute is clear, we look no further than that language...

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