McGaugh v. Commissioner Internal Revenue, No. 16-2987 (7th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
McGaugh has a Merrill Lynch Individual Retirement Account (IRA). In 2011, he requested that Merrill Lynch use money from that IRA to purchase 7,500 shares of FPFC stock. Merrill Lynch refused. McGaugh initiated a $50,000 wire transfer from his IRA directly to FPFC, on October 7, 2011. On November 28, FPFC issued a stock certificate titled “Raymond McGaugh IRA FBO Raymond McGaugh,” which it mailed to Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch says it received the certificate in early 2012, but did not retain it, believing McGaugh’s transaction to have exceeded the 60‐day window for IRA rollovers, 26 U.S.C. 408(d)(3). Merrill Lynch attempted to send the certificate to McGaugh twice, but the Postal Service returned it. The second time, it was marked “refused.” Merrill Lynch then sent the certificate to McGaugh via FedEx; it was not returned. The shares were never deposited into McGaugh’s IRA. The IRS contends that McGaugh possesses the certificate; McGaugh denies that allegation. Merrill Lynch characterized the wire transfer as a taxable distribution and issued Form 1099R. McGaugh claims he never received that form. In March 2014 the IRS issued a deficiency notice and assessed $13,538 tax due and a $2,708 substantial‐tax‐understatement penalty. The Tax Court held that McGaugh did not take a taxable distribution from his IRA. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, finding that McGaugh was never in actual or constructive receipt of the IRA funds.