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United States v. Robbin

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

August 9, 2017

United States of America Plaintiff,
v.
Ronny B. Robbin, Lynette R. Robbin, North American State Bank, and State of Minnesota Defendants.

          LaQuita Taylor-Phillips, Esq., and Michael R. Pahl, Esq., United States Department of Justice, Tax Division, counsel for Plaintiff.

          Ronny B. Robbin, pro se, and Lynette R. Robbin, pro se, Defendants.

          D. Sherwood McKinnis and Jacob G. Peterson, Esq., counsel for Defendant North American State Bank.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         This dispute centers on the IRS's assessment of taxes and penalties against a taxpayer who refused to pay taxes and filed frivolous tax returns. The government moved for summary judgment against the taxpayer (Doc. No. 44). The taxpayer then cross-moved for summary judgment contending that the IRS had failed to follow the proper procedures to assess the taxes and penalties. (Doc. No. 50.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants the government's motion and denies the taxpayer's motion.

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant Ronny Robbin is a tax protestor. For example, in filling out his IRS Form 1040A for 2004, Mr. Robbin stated that he had no income, which he defines as only corporate profits. (Doc. No. 48 (“Pahl Decl.”) ¶ 3, Ex. 9 (Robbin: “‘[I]ncome' for income tax purposes is synonymous with corporate profits . . . .”).)[1] The IRS disagreed with Mr. Robbin's interpretation and assessed him for unpaid taxes for 2003 and 2005. The IRS has determined that Mr. Robbin's unpaid taxes, including penalties and interest, to be $213, 862.79. Additionally, the IRS assessed civil penalties against Mr. Robbin for filing frivolous tax returns in 2004 and 2005-the forms where he said he had zero income. The fines, with interest and penalties, are $7, 276.72. The IRS filed notices of federal tax liens with the Kandiyohi County Recorder's Office on the Robbins' home in Belgrade, Minnesota, for the unpaid taxes and penalties. (Generally, the “Belgrade Property.”) The Robbins co-own the Belgrade Property as joint tenants.

         On January 14, 2016, the United States (generally, the “Government”) filed suit against the Robbins for unpaid taxes for 2003 and 2005 and for penalties from frivolous tax returns for 2004 and 2005. The Government also sued North American State Bank and the State of Minnesota as entities with possible interests in the Belgrade Property. According to property-tax assessments, the Belgrade Property is worth $145, 800 and is encumbered by a $40, 000 mortgage held by North American State Bank. Minnesota has stipulated that it holds no interest. (Doc. No. 17.) Ultimately, the Government seeks to force a sale of the Belgrade Property.

         On April 14, 2017, the Government moved for summary judgement against only Mr. Robbin seeking to force a sale of the Belgrade Property. On June 1, 2017, the Robbins cross-moved for summary judgment contending that the Government had not properly assessed the taxes and fines.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Standard

         Summary judgment is appropriate if the “movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). Courts must view the evidence, and the inferences that may be reasonably drawn from the evidence, in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Weitz Co., LLC v. Lloyd's of London, 574 F.3d 885, 892 (8th Cir. 2009). However, “[s]ummary judgment procedure is properly regarded not as a disfavored procedural shortcut, but rather as an integral part of the Federal Rules as a whole, which are designed ‘to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.'” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 327 (1986) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 1).

         The moving party bears the burden of showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Enter. Bank v. Magna Bank, 92 F.3d 743, 747 (8th Cir. 1996). The nonmoving party must demonstrate the existence of specific facts in the record that create a genuine issue for trial. Krenik v. Cty. of Le Sueur, 47 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir. 1995). A party opposing a properly supported motion for summary judgment “may not rest upon the mere allegations or denials of his pleading, but ...


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