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Weiler v. IRS

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

May 14, 2019

SHAWN K. WEILER, Plaintiff,
IRS, Defendant.



          William H. Baughmaii. Jr. United States Magistrate Judge.


         Before me by referral[1] is the pro se action under 26 U.S.C. § 7422 by Shawn K. Weiler against the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) seeking a refund of alleged overpayment of taxes.[2] Pending are motions for summary judgment by the IRS[3] and Weiler, [4] together with responses in opposition from each party[5] and a reply filed by the IRS.[6]

         For the reasons that follow, I will recommend that the motion by the IRS be granted and that Weiler's suit be dismissed. I will further recommend that sanctions be assessed against Weiler under Rule 11(b)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for filing a frivolous claim.


         The underlying facts are not complex and the material facts are undisputed.[7]The matter concerns Weiler's personal federal income tax returns for the years 2014, 2015, and 2016.[8] In each year, Weiler claimed he had no taxable income, although he admits he was employed during all of the relevant years, that the employer withheld federal tax from his paycheck during that time, and that he filed federal income tax returns for those years.[9] On each of those returns, Weiler claimed no taxable income.[10] Weiler received a refund for taxes withheld for 2014, as well as what he asserts was a partial refund for taxes withheld in 2016, but received no refund of taxes withheld for 2015.[11]

         Weiler contends that:

(1) the Sixteenth Amendment does not authorize a direct, non-apportioned income tax;[12]
(2) the federal income tax is an improper excise tax that cannot be levied in this case;[13] and
(3) Weiler is not subject to income tax because he is not a governmental employee.[14]

         The IRS, in turn, states that it is “well-settled law that an individual's salary or wages are income that is taxable under the Sixteenth Amendment and the Internal Revenue Code.”[15] It further states that every individual wage earner, whether employed by the federal government or not, is subject to payment of federal income tax.[16]

         In addition, the IRS notes that Weiler does not dispute that he was employed, nor that he earned income, nor that the W-2 forms issued by his employer accurately reflect the amounts he earned and the amounts withheld.[17] It also states that the amounts withheld for federal income tax, Medicare, and Social Security were proper under law.[18]

         Further, the IRS asserts that Weiler received the refunds issued for taxes paid in 2014 and 2016 because “Weiler falsely reported on his tax returns that he had earned zero wages, and also falsely reported as ‘federal income tax withheld' the amounts withheld for Medicare and Social Security.”[19]

         Finally, the IRS notes that “courts have not hesitated to impose sanctions against taxpayers who have asserted similar frivolous claims, ” even acting sua sponte, such as Rule 11 sanctions.[20]


         A. Standard of review

         Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that the court shall grant summary judgment if a movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. A “material fact” is one that might affect the outcome of the suit under governing law, and a genuine dispute exists if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party.[21]

         Rule 56 mandates the entry of summary judgment against a party who fails to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party has the burden of proof at trial.[22] A plaintiff's status as a pro se litigant does not absolve him of meeting this burden.[23] Moreover, in a tax refund suit the plaintiff has the burden of showing an entitlement to a refund by a preponderance of the evidence.[24]

         B. Application of standard

         As the IRS observes, Weiler's arguments for a refund are “frivolous” and are those commonly employed by tax defiers or illegal tax protestors.[25]

         The Supreme Court more than a century ago held that the federal income tax is authorized by the Sixteenth Amendment as a valid, non-apportioned direct tax.[26] Moreover, in that same decision the Court found that the federal income tax is not an unauthorized excise tax.[27] Finally, as stated by federal appellate courts, it is “preposterous” and “totally without merit” to assert, as Weiler does here, that federal statute provides only for the taxation of income earned by government employees, thus exempting Weiler as an employee of a private company.[28]

         Inasmuch as the law clearly supports the IRS, the analysis must turn to whether the law, as applied to the facts here, support ...

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