United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge
Di'Onna Fallen seeks refunds that she claimed on her 2005
and 2010 federal tax returns. Compl., ECF No. 1. The United
States disputes her entitlement to either of the requested
refunds and has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No.
19. The Motion is fully briefed, Def.'s Mem., ECF No.
19-1; Pl.'s Opp'n ECF No. 21; Def.'s Reply, ECF
No. 22, and no hearing is necessary, Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md.).
Because the statute of limitations has expired for the 2005
claim and because Fallen has failed to provide any evidence
supporting her right to the tax credit that was the basis for
her 2010 claim, I will grant the United States' Motion.
judgment is proper when the moving party demonstrates,
through “particular parts of materials in the record,
including depositions, documents, electronically stored
information, affidavits or declarations, stipulations . . .,
admissions, interrogatory answers, or other materials,
” 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), (c)(1)(A); see
also Baldwin v. City of Greensboro, 714 F.3d 828, 833
(4th Cir. 2013). If the party seeking summary judgment
demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the
nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the
nonmoving party to identify evidence that shows that a
genuine dispute exists as to material facts. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 585-87 & n.10 (1986). The existence of only a
“scintilla of evidence” is not enough to defeat a
motion for summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby,
Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 251-52 (1986). Instead, the
evidentiary materials submitted must show facts from which
the finder of fact reasonably could find for the party
opposing summary judgment. Id.
April 2013, Plaintiff Di'Onna Fallen filed tax returns
with the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) for tax
years 2005 through 2012, inclusive. Pl.'s Resp. to
Def.'s Interrog. No. 4, Defs.' Mot. Ex. A, at 2, ECF
No. 19-4. She claimed a $4, 129.00 refund on her
2005 return and a $2, 267.12 refund on her 2010 return. 2005
Form 1040EZ, Def.'s Mot. Ex. A., at 5; see also
2010 Form 1040, Def.'s Mot. Ex. A, at 12 (claiming $2,
094 refund); 2010 Notice CP21B, Def.'s Mot. Ex. A., at 9
(calculating refund due as $2, 267.12 based on information
Fallen provided on her 2010 Form 1040A). The IRS denied the
requested refunds for both years. See Letter from
Internal Revenue Serv., to Di'Onna Fallen (July 30,
2013), Def.'s Mot. Ex. A, at 7. After struggling to appeal
those denials, Fallen filed suit in this Court.
United States argues that Fallen's 2005 refund claim is
time-barred. Def.'s Mem. 3. A taxpayer must file a refund
claim with the IRS “within 3 years from the time the
return” associated with the refund claim is filed or
within “2 years from the time the tax” from which
the refund is sought was paid, whichever date is later. 26
U.S.C. § 6511(a). For claims within the three-year
limitations period, the taxpayer's recovery is limited to
money paid on the tax in question in the three years prior to
the claim. Id. § 6511(b)(2)(a).
only taxes that Fallen paid in 2005 were taxes withheld from
her paycheck. 2005 Certificate of Assessments, Payments, and
Other Matters, Def.'s Mot. Ex. B, ECF No. 19-5. Withheld
taxes are deemed to have been paid on April 15 of the year
following the tax year in which they are withheld.
See 26 U.S.C. § 6513(b)(1). Thus, Fallen's
2005 taxes were paid on April 15, 2006. Fallen filed her 2005
refund claim when she filed that year's return in April
2013. Accordingly, because she paid her 2005 taxes more than
three years before she filed her refund claim, she is not
able to recover a refund for that tax year. See 26
U.S.C. § 6511(b)(2)(A). Fallen believes that the statute
of limitations for refund claims is unfair because a longer
limitations period applies to the federal government's
efforts to recover unpaid taxes from taxpayers. Pl.'s
Opp'n 2. Fair or unfair, that is law and must be applied.
United States concedes that Fallen made a timely claim for a
2010 refund; however, it argues that she has failed to
demonstrate her entitlement to a refund for that year.
Def.'s Mem. 4-5. As “tax credits and deductions are
a matter of legislative grace, taxpayers bear the burden of
proving entitlement to the credits they claim on their
returns.” Norfolk S. Crop. v. C.I.R., 140 F.3d
240, 244 (4th Cir. 1998) (citing INDOPCO, Inc. v.
Comm'r, 503 U.S. 79, 84 (1992). On her 2010 return,
Fallen claimed that she was entitled to a $2,
credit under the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC),
see 2010 Form 1040, ll. 49, 66, Def.'s Mot. Ex.
A, at 12, which provides tax relief associated with
higher-education costs, American Opportunity Tax
Credit, Internal Revenue Serv.,
https://www.irs.gov/individuals/aotc (Jan. 29,
2017). To be eligible for the AOTC, a taxpayer must (1) not
have claimed the credit in more than the three previous
years; (2) have been enrolled in a degree-granting program
during the tax year; (3) have been at least a half-time
student during the tax year; (4) have completed less than
four years of higher education; and (5) not have a felony
drug conviction. 26 U.S.C. § 25A(b)(2), (i)(3).
has not produced any evidence that she meets any of the five
requirements that she must have met in order to have been
entitled to the AOTC in 2010. Thus, Fallen is not entitled to
a refund for tax year 2010.
for the reasons stated, it is this 22nd
day of May, 2017, hereby ORDERED that:
Defendant's Motions for Summary Judgment, ECF ...