Dalton v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue Serv., No. 11-2217 (1st Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Taxpayers, who incurred tax liability as a result of a failed business, had transferred real estate to a trust for the benefit of family members. The IRS determined that, with accrued interest, their indebtedness exceeds $400,000 and, in 2004, gave notice of intent to levy, 26 U.S.C. 6330(a). The taxpayers did not dispute the amount, but requested a pre-attachment CDP hearing and offered to settle their debt for $10,000. They denied that they had any ownership interest in the property and asserted that, with their assets and income, they could never come close to satisfying their total tax liability. After gathering information and hearing arguments, the IRS rejected the offer in compromise, finding that the taxpayers were the real owners. The Tax Court reviewed the determination de novo, found that the taxpayers were not the owners of the real estate, directed the IRS to accept the offer in compromise, and ordered the IRS to pay attorneys' fees. The First Circuit reversed, holding that the Tax Court employed an improper standard of review with respect to the IRS's subsidiary determinations. Under a more deferential standard, consistent with the nature and purpose of the CDP process, the IRS acted reasonably.