On January 30, 2020, the Tax Court issued a Memorandum Opinion in the case of Alber v. Commissioner (T.C. Memo. 2020-20). The issue presented in Alber v. Commissioner was whether the Whistleblower Office of the IRS abused its discretion in summarily rejecting a whistleblower’s claim on the basis that the information provided to support such claim was speculative and/or did not provide specific or credible information regarding tax underpayments or violations of internal revenue laws.
Background to Alber v. Commissioner
The petitioner in Alber was engaged in a lifelong game of Marco Polo with reality, which by all metrics, he was winning handily.
The petitioner is a non-U.S. citizen residing in Germany. He submitted a Form 211 (Application for Award for Original Information) to the Whistleblower office of the IRS (WBO) that alleged, and I quote: the “fake Federal Republic of Germany banana republic has been treating [the petitioner] badly and in illegal, unconstitutional ways including stealing [his] monies and assets in [the] form of taxes and tax fraud based on invalid tax laws from 1954.”
Listed among his chief complaints against the Chiquita Republic of the Rhineland was “a highly criminal psychological assessment.” I am not certain what role the federal government of Germany played in recommending or ordering said assessment, but it was, apparently, wholly uncalled for, because in the petitioner’s own words, he was “totally healthy.”
To be clear, this is a case against the whistleblower arm of the IRS, and the WBO, heretofore, has been a chiefly American department to complain about. The petitioner is a German citizen with a beef against the German government over German taxes (and other various and sundry issues).*
*Author’s Note: How the bloody hell does this apply to the U.S. (in general) or the WBO (specifically), you may ask. It turns out that one of the voices in the petitioner’s head was William Henry Marks, a U.S. expatriate, who immigrated to petitioner’s subconscious when he was just a young boy in the suburbs of Berlin. Although jurisdiction based upon the citizenship of a psychosis had never before been attempted (and you can bet your ass I researched this), the petitioner, among other things, was an innovator. Sadly, Judge Gustafson was a tad myopic, focusing instead on “facts” and “objective reality.” If this case proves nothing else (and, honestly, it doesn’t), it demonstrates that even the most measured jurist can be influenced by bias. In the present matter, Judge Gustafson was prejudiced by the fact that Mr. Marks did not present direct testimony, and apparently there is no hearsay exception for testifying as the truth of the matter asserted for a statement made by a figment of one’s imagination.
The Tax Court opinion notes that the Petitioner’s Form 211 alleges violations of the income tax laws of Germany, as well as identity theft, tax theft, suppression and “destruction of the petitioner’s life through fake statements” and “generally alludes to rights” arising under the United States Constitution and the German Constitution that, in some way, afford “rights” (by which, the Tax Court assumed the petitioner meant jurisdiction) to bring the claim before the Tax Court.
Although the petitioner identifies no less than 17 people who have done him wrong, he fails to – in any way shape or form – connect a single one of those evildoers to the U.S. (generally) or to a specific violation of an internal revenue law of the United States (specifically).
It takes a special kind of crazy chutzpah (i) to believe this shit, (ii) to file a claim with the WBO on these grounds, and ever so much more to take it far enough to (iii) to petition the U.S. Tax Court for relief. However, Judge Gustafson does provide us some insight into the mechanics of the petitioner’s “beliefs.” As noted above, the petitioner alleges that the German government forced him to undergo “a highly criminal psychological assessment.” Why criminal? Because in the petitioner’s own words, he is, was, and at all points relevant hereto, “totally healthy.” Clearly.
Judge Gustafson goes through the motions of noting that the decision of the WBO to summarily reject a claim is reviewed for abuse of discretion. See Lacey v. Commissioner, 153 T.C. No. 8, *37-*38) (Nov. 25, 2019). He even cites authority for the WBO’s authority to perform an initial evaluation. See IRC § 7623; Treas. Reg. § 301.7623-1(c)(4). Ultimately, mercifully, Judge Gustafson keeps it brief.
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A part of me thinks that Judge Gustafson went through the generous (albeit wholly unnecessary) motions, just because that is the kind of judge he is. Judge Gustafson is willing to give even the looniest petitioners a fair shake. The other part of me thinks that he wanted to “paper the file” with a defensible Tax Court opinion so that when Herr Nutjob appeals it, which, let’s face it, he will, the appellate court has something to hang their summary judgment hat on.