Snyder v. IRS

Decision Date18 October 1984
Docket NumberCiv. No. F 84-211.
Citation596 F. Supp. 240
PartiesPhillip W. SNYDER, Plaintiff, v. INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE and John A. Dietrich, Agent, Defendants.
CourtU.S. District Court — Northern District of Indiana



Phillip W. Snyder, pro se.

Peter Sklarew, Civ. Trial Sec., Tax Div., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., David H. Miller, Asst. U.S. Atty., Fort Wayne, Ind., for defendants.


LEE, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on defendants' Motion to Dismiss and for an Award of Attorneys' Fees and Costs filed August 28, 1984. For the following reasons, defendants' motion will be granted in its entirety.

Plaintiff is proceeding pro se. Pro se pleadings are to be liberally construed. Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 92 S.Ct. 594, 30 L.Ed.2d 652 (1972). This court also recognizes that federal courts have historically exercised great tolerance to insure that an impartial forum remains available to plaintiffs invoking the jurisdiction of the court without the guidance of trained counsel. Pro se complaints, such as plaintiff's, are held to less stringent pleading requirements; technical rigor in the examination of such pleadings is inappropriate.

Liberally construing plaintiff's complaint and numerous other filings, as well as plaintiff's comments made at the preliminary pre-trial conference held in Open Court on August 27, 1984, it appears that the plaintiff is contesting the withholding of his wages by his employer as part of the statutorily defined scheme for collecting income taxes. Plaintiff believes that he is not subject to the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 ("Code"), and that by the assessing of taxes against him, the assessing of fines for the filing of certain W-4 forms in which plaintiff claimed an "exempt status," and the threat of a possible levy of his property should he fail to pay the taxes, plaintiff's constitutional rights have been harmed. The list of the rights allegedly violated grows with each pleading plaintiff filed in this court. In Open Court, plaintiff delineated the following: (1) violation of the fourth amendment because his property was "seized" when money was withheld from his paycheck; (2) deprivation of due process because plaintiff asked for appeal and then was told it was denied; (3) violation of the fifth amendment right of self-incrimination because the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") asked for records and information but denied plaintiff's request of being protected from being a witness against himself. In filings after the hearing, plaintiff has also claimed violations of the fourth amendment for the assessment of two separate $500.00 fines for attempting to fill out false W-4 forms, and that the Final Notice of Tax Deficiency sent to plaintiff constituted a Bill of Pains and Penalties. Plaintiff seeks an injunction and $900,000 in damages. The complaint was originally filed in state court, and removed to this court on motion of the defendants.

Defendants have responded by filing a motion to dismiss. The thrust of the motion is two-fold: (1) neither of the defendants can be sued because they are protected by immunity; and (2) all allegations in the complaint are without merit, and therefore subject to dismissal. Defendants have also moved for fees and costs for defending this action.

The court begins with the motion to dismiss.


Although the defendants have characterized their motion as a motion to dismiss, it is clear that the issues presented by this motion are best addressed after reference is made to the exhibits, pleadings, and statements made in Open Court in this case. When matters outside the pleadings are presented to and not excluded by the court, a motion to dismiss will be converted into a motion for summary judgment under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b).

Under Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary judgment may only be granted if "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Thus, summary judgment serves as a vehicle with which the court "can determine whether further exploration of the facts is necessary." Hahn v. Sargent, 523 F.2d 461, 464 (1st Cir.1975).

In making this determination, the court must keep in mind that the entry of summary judgment terminates the litigation, or an aspect thereof, and must draw all inferences from the established or asserted facts in favor of the non-moving party. Peoples Outfitting Co. v. General Electric Credit Corp., 549 F.2d 42 (7th Cir.1977). A party may not rest on the mere allegations of his pleadings or the bare contentions that an issue of fact exists. Posey v. Skyline Corp., 702 F.2d 102, 105 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, ___ U.S. ___, 104 S.Ct. 392, 78 L.Ed.2d 336 (1983). See Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144, 90 S.Ct. 1598, 26 L.Ed.2d 142 (1970). See also Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway v. United Transportation Union, 734 F.2d 317 (7th Cir.1984); Korf v. Ball State University, 726 F.2d 1222 (7th Cir.1984). See generally C. Wright, Law of Federal Courts, § 99 (4th ed. 1983); 6 Moore's Federal Practice, § 56.15 (2d ed. 1984).

Thus, the moving party must demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. The court views all evidence submitted in favor of the non-moving party. Even if there are some disputed facts, where the undisputed facts are the material facts involved and those facts show one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, summary judgment is appropriate. Egger v. Phillips, 710 F.2d 292, 296-97 (7th Cir.1983); Collins v. American Optometric Assn., 693 F.2d 636, 639 (7th Cir.1982). Further, if the court resolves all factual disputes in favor of the non-moving party and still finds summary judgment in favor of the moving party is correct as a matter of law, then the moving party is entitled to summary judgment in his favor. Egger, 710 F.2d at 297. See also Bishop v. Wood, 426 U.S. 341, 348, 348 n. 11, 96 S.Ct. 2074, 2079, 2079 n. 11, 48 L.Ed.2d 684 (1976).

Although not raised by the defendants directly in their motion to dismiss, the court turns first to the issue of whether a proper basis for jurisdiction exists for hearing this cause. Because of the limited nature of a district court's jurisdiction, the court may inquire into its jurisdiction sua sponte. Rice v. Rice Foundation, 610 F.2d 471 (7th Cir.1979).

A. Jurisdiction

Plaintiff's original complaint asserted two bases for jurisdiction: the United States and Indiana constitutions. Under a section entitled "Venue," plaintiff also cites to 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 1986, the civil rights statutes, and 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242, criminal statutes. None of these provisions give this court adequate jurisdiction to hear this cause.

The civil rights statutes, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983, and 1986 cannot provide jurisdiction in actions against the assessment or collection of taxes. Section 1981 is restricted by the import of its language to discrimination based on race or color. Virginia v. Rives, 100 U.S. (10 Otto) 313, 25 L.Ed. 667 (1880); Willingham v. Macon Telegraph Publishing Co., 482 F.2d 535, 537 n. 1 (5th Cir.1973). In fact, the language of § 1981 militates against plaintiff's case, because the section provides that "all persons" shall be subject to taxes. Section 1983 prohibits deprivation of rights under color of state law. However, actions of IRS officials, even if beyond the scope of their official duties, are acts done under color of federal law and not state law, thus making § 1983 inapplicable. Seibert v. Baptist, 594 F.2d 423 (5th Cir.1979), cert. denied, 446 U.S. 918, 100 S.Ct. 1851, 64 L.Ed.2d 271 (1980); Mack v. Alexander, 575 F.2d 488, 489 (5th Cir.1978). Section 1986 creates a cause of action for failure or neglect to prevent a § 1985 conspiracy. However, § 1985(1) deals with conspiring to prevent an official from discharging his duties, while § 1985(2) deals with obstructing justice, both of which are inapplicable here. Section 1985(3) requires that there be "some racial, or perhaps otherwise class-based, invidiously discriminating animus behind the conspirators' action," Griffin v. Breckenridge, 403 U.S. 88, 102, 91 S.Ct. 1790, 1798, 29 L.Ed.2d 338 (1971); Dunn v. State of Tennessee, 697 F.2d 121 (6th Cir.1982), cert. denied, 460 U.S. 1086, 103 S.Ct. 1778, 76 L.Ed.2d 349 (1983), none of which is present here. It is therefore obvious that none of these statutory provisions can provide plaintiff with a basis for suit.

A similar conclusion results after analyzing 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242, which are also offered by the plaintiff as grounds for "venue." Section 241 makes it a crime for two or more persons to conspire to injure the rights of a citizen, while § 242 makes it a crime to violate the civil rights of a person. In short, they are simply the criminal law versions of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1985 and 1983. As such, plaintiff's civil action cannot be based on the criminal statute but must be based on the statutes granting a civil cause of action (§§ 1983 and 1985), which are not present here. Plaintiff seems to admit that §§ 241 and 242 do not give him a private cause of action when he states "Title 18 U.S.C. was quoted in original Complaint in case a grand Jury wished to bring additional Criminal charges. Also, if the United States of America wished to police the actions of the defendants." Plaintiff's Answer to the Court in re of Instruments Submitted by the Defendants, filed September 14, 1984, ¶ D-2(d), p. 6. Thus, this court gains no jurisdiction over this action by virtue of 18 U.S.C. §§ 241 or 242.

The only other basis for jurisdiction is 28 U.S.C. § 1331, the federal question jurisdiction statute. Plaintiff claims that the...

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