Justice v. United States, No. 15-10273 (11th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
Debtor declared bankruptcy in 2011 and sought to discharge his federal income tax liability for tax years 2000 through 2003. Debtor had filed Forms 1040 for those tax years many years late, and only after the IRS had issued notices of deficiency and had assessed the amount of taxes he owed. The bankruptcy court determined that debtor's tax debts were nondischargeable and granted the government's motion for summary judgment. The court assumed, without deciding, that Congress did not intend to include filing deadlines when it required, in the hanging paragraph, that tax returns comply with “applicable filing requirements.” Even making that assumption, however, the court held that debtor's late-filed Forms 1040 do not qualify as tax returns under the Beard test because they do not evince an honest and reasonable effort to comply with the tax law. Consequently, debtor's tax debts for tax years 2000 through 2003 are debts for tax obligations with respect to which no return was filed, and they are not dischargeable in bankruptcy pursuant to 11 U.S.C. 23(a)(1)(B)(i). Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment.