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Amen Ra ex rel. Lewis v. Internal Revenue Service

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

July 27, 2015

SIMEON WASHA AMEN RA ex rel. SIMEON LEWIS, Plaintiff,
v.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, UNITED STATES, Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

JOHN Z. LEE, District Judge.

Plaintiff Simeon Washa Amen Ra, ex rel. Simeon Lewis ("Amen Ra") filed this suit pro se against Defendant United States of America, alleging that the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") garnished his wages and withheld income tax in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA"), 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq.; the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act, 28 U.S.C. § 3001 et seq.; the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution; the Uniform Lien Registration Act, 770 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 110; the Internal Revenue Code ("Code"), 26 U.S.C. § 7422; and three federal criminal statutes, 18 U.S.C. §§ 241, 242, and 1346. Amen Ra seeks damages in the amount of $156, 642.99, and the IRS now moves to dismiss his Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part the IRS's motion to dismiss.

Factual Background

Amen Ra's claims arise from the IRS's withholding of income tax and garnishment of wages through Amen Ra's employer, BNSF Railway Company, for unpaid income tax assessments for the years 2007, 2008, and 2009. Compl. ¶¶ 11, 18, 29. The IRS began garnishing Amen Ra's wages in October 2012, and Amen Ra claims to have received no Notice of Deficiency for the unpaid tax assessments prior to this time. From March 2010 to March 2014, Amen Ra submitted letters to the IRS to contest his income tax withholdings and garnishment of wages. Pl.'s Mem. Opp'n ¶ 7; Compl. ¶¶ 10, 14, 15, 28. Ultimately, Amen Ra filed this lawsuit on October 22, 2014, alleging that the IRS's actions violated his constitutional rights as well as various civil and criminal statutes. Id. ¶ 89.

Legal Standard

A motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) tests the jurisdictional sufficiency of the complaint. "When ruling on a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), the district court must accept as true all well-pleaded factual allegations, and draw reasonable inferences in favor of the plaintiff." Ezekiel v. Michel, 66 F.3d 894, 897 (7th Cir. 1995). But "[t]he district court may properly look beyond the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever evidence has been submitted on the issue to determine whether in fact subject matter jurisdiction exists." Capitol Leasing Co. v. F.D.I.C., 999 F.2d 188, 191 (7th Cir. 1993) (quoting Grafon Corp. v. Hausermann, 602 F.2d 781, 783 (7th Cir. 1979)). "[I]f the complaint is formally sufficient but the contention is that there is in fact no subject matter jurisdiction, the movant may use affidavits and other material to support the motion." United Phosphorus, Ltd. v. Angus Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir. 2003), overruled on other grounds by Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc., 683 F.3d 845, 848 (7th Cir. 2012). "The burden of proof on a 12(b)(1) issue is on the party asserting jurisdiction." Id.

To survive a motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6), a complaint must "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Additionally, when considering motions to dismiss, the Court accepts "all well-pleaded factual allegations as true and view[s] them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Lavalais v. Vill. of Melrose Park, 734 F.3d 629, 632 (7th Cir. 2013) (citing Luevano v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 722 F.3d 1014, 1027 (7th Cir. 2013)). At the same time, "allegations in the form of legal conclusions are insufficient to survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion." McReynolds v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 694 F.3d 873, 885 (7th Cir. 2012) (citing Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). As such, "[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of the cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678.

Analysis

The IRS argues that Amen Ra's complaint should be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Specifically, the IRS contends that (1) Amen Ra has failed to exhaust administrative remedies; (2) the United States has not waived its sovereign immunity; and (3) the FDCPA, Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act, the Uniform Lien Registration Act, and federal criminal statutes do not provide a private cause of action against the United States.

I. Counts I through V

In Counts I through V, Amen Ra alleges that the IRS violated five provisions of the FDCPA. 15 U.S.C. §§ 1692(a), e-g, i. But the FDCPA governs "the abusive debt collection practices by debt collectors, " and the IRS is not a "debt collector" under the definition provided in the statute. See id. § 1692a. In fact, the FDCPA specifically excludes from that definition "any officer or employee of the United States or any State to the extent that collecting or attempting to collect any debt is in performance of his official duties." 15 U.S.C. § 1692(a)(6)(C). As such, the FDCPA does not provide a private cause of action against the IRS or an employee of the IRS in performance of official duties. See Al-Sharif v. United States, 296 F.Appx. 740, 742 (11th Cir. 2008) (concluding that IRS agents did not qualify as "debt collectors" under FDCPA and plaintiff had no cause of action under the statute); Albritton v. Premier Title, 70 F.Appx. 180, 181 (5th Cir. 2003) (concluding that while federal law provides a taxpayer with remedies to challenge an alleged improper assessment and collection of federal taxes, such remedies do not include an after-the-fact lawsuit against the IRS and its employees based on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act."). Counts I through V are dismissed with prejudice.

II. Counts VI and VII

In Counts VI and VII, Amen Ra alleges that the IRS violated two provisions of the Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act, regarding pre- and post-judgment remedies. 28 U.S.C. § 3101, 3201. The Federal Debt Collection Procedures Act establishes the "exclusive civil procedures for the United States... to recover a judgment on a debt, or... to obtain, before judgment on a claim for a debt, a remedy in connection with such a claim." 28 U.S.C. § 3001(a). Thus, while the Act provides procedures by which the United States may recover a judgment on a debt, it does not in turn create a private cause of action against the United States, nor can the Court reasonably infer one.[1] To the contrary, the Act explicitly states that it "shall not be construed to curtail or limit the right of the United States under any other Federal ...


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