Estate of Palumbo v. United States, No. 11-2371 (3d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
After an error resulted in omission of a will's residual clause, litigation between the decedent's son and a charitable trust settled with the son receiving $5,600,000 and property and the trust receiving $11,721,141. The Estate filed a claim for federal estate tax charitable deduction. The IRS disallowed the deduction, finding that the contribution was made by the son via the settlement. The district court granted the Estate summary judgment, but found the government's position substantially justified and did not award fees or costs. The Third Circuit affirmed. The award for prevailing parties under 26 U.S.C. 7430 incorporates the Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d)(1)(B), under which recovery of fees is barred if a party’s net worth exceeds the statutory amount. Parties seeking to recover under either the prevailing party provision or the qualified offer provision must satisfy the net worth requirements. Although the trust satisfied the net worth requirements as a tax-exempt charitable organization with fewer than 500 employees, the court rejected an argument that it was the real party in interest.