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Tax — discovery

U.S. Supreme Court


Tax — discovery

A taxpayer has a right to conduct an examination of IRS officials regarding their reasons for issuing a summons when he points to specific facts or circumstances plausibly raising an inference of bad faith.

A person receiving a summons is entitled to contest it in an adversarial enforcement proceeding. Donaldson v. United States, 400 U. S. 517, 524. But these proceedings are “summary in nature,” United States v. Stuart, 489 U. S. 353, 369, and the only relevant question is whether the summons was issued in good faith, United States v. Powell, 379 U. S. 48, 56. The balance struck in this Court’s prior cases supports a requirement that a summons objector offer not just naked allegations, but some credible evidence to support his claim of improper motive. Circumstantial evidence can suffice to meet that burden, and a fleshed out case is not demanded: The taxpayer need only present a plausible basis for his charge.

517 Fed. Appx. 689, vacated and remanded.

13-301 U.S. v. Clarke

Kagan, J.

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