Botta v. Scanlon

Decision Date27 July 1960
Docket NumberCiv. 60-C-239.
Citation187 F. Supp. 856
PartiesMichael BOTTA, Ernest Montagni and Salvatore Santaniello, Plaintiffs, v. Thomas E. SCANLON, District Director of Internal Revenue for the District of Brooklyn, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York

Daniel H. Greenberg, New York City, for plaintiffs.

Cornelius W. Wickersham, Jr., U. S. Atty., Eastern District of New York, Brooklyn, N. Y., for defendant, Jon H. Hammer, Asst. U. S. Atty., Brooklyn, N. Y., of counsel.

BARTELS, District Judge.

Motion by defendant to dismiss the complaint on the grounds that (i) it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Rule 12(b) (6), Fed.Rules Civ.Proc., 28 U.S.C.A.), (ii) Section 7421 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, 26 U.S.C.A.1, bars the relief sought by plaintiffs, (iii) there has been a failure to join an indispensable party (Rule 19) and (iv) no relief may be had herein under the Declaratory Judgments Act, 28 U.S.C.A. §§ 2201 and 2202.

The action, brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C.A. § 1340, is essentially one for an injunction against the enforcement by the District Director of Internal Revenue of certain tax liens. The plaintiffs were officers of Thru-County Plumbing and Heating Co., Inc., which was adjudicated a bankrupt on February 14, 1958. At that time there was owing to the United States of America amounts withheld by the corporation from the salaries of its employees during the last quarter of 1956, the four quarters of 1957 and the first quarter of 1958. Pursuant to Section 6672, plaintiffs were assessed with 100% penalties aggregating $7,779.96, and thereafter liens against the property of plaintiffs were filed in the office of the County Clerk, County of Queens, and also with the Clerk of this Court. Alleging that they were in no way connected with any corporate activity involving taxes, plaintiffs seek an order invalidating the assessment and liens and an injunction prohibiting the enforcement or collection of the assessments under notice of levy. The theory of plaintiffs' action is that the assessments are invalid since no "ninety day letters" were served on them in accordance with the mandate of Section 6212 (a), making the procedure followed by defendant unlawful and also that since they were not the individuals responsible for the failure to remit the taxes withheld from the salaries of the corporate employees the assessment against them is improper.

Section 7421 bars any "suit for the purpose of restraining the assessment or collection of any tax * * *" except where there has not been compliance with the "ninety day letter" requirement. For the reasons set forth in the opinion of this Court in the companion case of Lipsig v. United States, D.C.E.D.N.Y.1960, 187 F.Supp. 826,2 plaintiffs are not entitled to be served with "ninety day letters" since such letters are only required when a tax or penalty is imposed pursuant to Subtitles A or B of the Code, where as here the assessment was pursuant to Subtitle C of the Code. Plaintiffs consequently are not within the statutory exception provided for in Section 7421. Mrizek v. Long, D.C.Ill.1959, 187 F.Supp. 830.

There is a judicial exception to the bar of Section 7421 applied where (a) the tax assessment is an illegal exaction in the guise of a tax and (b) there are present "special and extraordinary circumstances sufficient to bring the case within some acknowledged head of equity jurisprudence." Miller v. Standard Nut Margarine Co. of Florida, 1932, 284 U.S. 498, 509, 52 S.Ct. 260, 263, 76 L.Ed. 422. To come within this judicial exception to the statute plaintiffs must meet both of the above requirements. The complaint recites the bare conclusion that the defendant's conduct has caused "irreparable harm", and such a recital is inadequate to invoke equity jurisdiction. "A showing of extraordinary and exceptional circumstances must be found in the complaint if an escape is to be made from the prohibition of Section 7421, Internal Revenue Code." Holdeen v. Raterree, D.C.N.Y.1957, 155 F.Supp. 509, 510 (emphasis added) and cases cited therein. To the same effect are State of California v. Latimer, 1938, 305 U.S. 255, 59 S.Ct. 166, 83 L.Ed. 159; Homan Mfg. Co. v. Long, 7 Cir., 1957, 242 F.2d 645; Morton v. White, D.C.Ill.1959, 174 F.Supp. 446. Plaintiffs have patently failed therefore to come within either of the two requirements of the "judicial exception" with regard to the failure of defendant to serve a "ninety day letter".

Although not pressed by plaintiffs on this motion, there is a second allegation of illegality in the complaint, based upon the assertion that they are not the proper parties to be charged with Section 6672 penalties. If true, this might be a basis for recovery in an action for a refund after payment of the penalty. Levy v. United States, D.C.La. 1956, 140 F.Supp. 834. However, the fact that the person assessed with a tax does not owe that tax is not alone sufficient to invoke equity jurisdiction. Mere illegality, injustice or irregularity of the tax, without more, will not justify injunctive relief. United States v. Curd, 5 Cir., ...

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4 cases
  • State of Alabama v. Rogers, Civ. A. No. 1616-N
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Middle District of Alabama
    • 11 de agosto de 1960
  • Botta v. Scanlon
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Second Circuit
    • 18 de fevereiro de 1963
    ...Rayfiel, J., dismissing the appellants' complaint. 198 F.Supp. 899 (1961). On appeal from a prior dismissal of their complaint, 187 F.Supp. 856 (E.D.N.Y.1960), this court modified the order of the district court so as to permit the appellants to file an amended complaint, and remanded the c......
  • Butler v. District Director of Internal Revenue, Civ. A. No. 73-H-473.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of Texas
    • 13 de novembro de 1973
    ...Margarine Co. of Fla., 49 F.2d 79, 85 (5th Cir. 1931), aff'd, 284 U.S. 498, 52 S.Ct. 260, 76 L. Ed. 422 (1932); see also Botta v. Scanlon, 187 F.Supp. 856 (E.D.N.Y.1960), aff'd, 314 F.2d 392 (2d Cir. Second, any waiver of sovereign immunity must necessarily be made by the Congress. Section ......
  • Botta v. Scanlon
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • 9 de novembro de 1961

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