Meet the New Face of the IRS in the Central District

Last Saturday I attended the CDCBAA CLE on “Handling Tax Debt Dischargeability and Bankruptcy Tax Disputes.”

The speakers were Judge Kwan, Arnold H. Wuhrman, Esq. of Serenity Legal Services, P.C., and assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert F. Conte, Esq. and Najah Shariff. Judge Saltzman and Judge Houle’s former law clerk, Jolene Tanner also made a special guest appearance. Najah and Jolene are the two new faces of the IRS. They will have the primary responsibility for all bankruptcy related litigation in the entire Central District of California.

Judge Kwan

(from far left to right: Jolene Tanner, Robert Conte, Najah Shariff, Judge Kwan, and Arnold H. Wuhrman)

A lot was learned but a few tips which and reminders I found interesting:

Most attorneys file a power of attorney so they can access their client’s transcripts. This makes them general counsel before the IRS/tax court with respect to representation of their client. It also subjects them to particular tax related standards. An alternative is to file a for 8821 which is a tax information authorization request. Click here for a copy.

Not paying taxes, by itself, is not fraud. Even if you know you have a huge tax burden accruing and you don’t file taxes, that’s not fraud because the 9th Circuit has said there needs to be specific intent. The IRS will need to prove the intent by the preponderance of evidence. It appears their case in chief will be to look for some indicia of intentional tax evasion. They are looking for an affirmative act. Examples include: opening new bank accounts, purchasing property under someone else’s name, or moving some money out of the country.

Apparently there is a case out there that says a Trustee cannot sell property subject to a tax lien if general unsecured creditors will not be paid a dime. More on that in a future blog but that can’t be, can it!?

Finally, Judge Kwan said that lawyers and judges are a lot like professional golfers, they are always working on their game.

I agree.  This is particularly important for us younger attorneys. If the guy with 30 years of experience is attending 1 hour of CLE per month, we should be attending 3-5 hours per month! How else are you going to catch up to that guy or stand toe to toe with him in court? I guess you can wait 30 years!

Finally, a plug for the CDCBAA. The CDCBAA provides 16 hours of CLE per year through 8 events for $250. That is $31.25 per event + $10 for parking. You also get a free ticket to the Calvin Ashland Awards Dinner and access to its listserv where many seasoned attorneys will answer bankruptcy related questions. The listserv is saved so that all prior posts can be browsed through, this is a great resource. On top of that, you get to meet excellent attorneys. I highly recommend it.

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