United States District Court, D. Maryland
DIA KHAFRA, et al. Plaintiffs,
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE, et al., Defendants.
Xinis, United States District Judge.
Dia Khafra and Claudia Lystra Khafra, proceeding pro
se, bring suit against the Internal Revenue Service
(“IRS”) and Appeals Team Manager Maureen A.
Higgins. ECF No. 1. Now pending before the Court are
Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend the Complaint and the United
States' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint for
lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a
claim. ECF No. 7. The motions are fully briefed and no
hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the
reasons that follow, the Court grants Plaintiffs' Motion
to Amend the Complaint as well as the United States'
Motion to Dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
allege that they are entitled to a refund of taxes paid on
April 15, 2012, for the 2011 tax year because the IRS
wrongfully denied their refund claim filed on April 16, 2015.
ECF No. 1. The United States contends that the Court lacks
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(1) to hear the
claim because Plaintiffs filed their refund claim too late to
recover for their 2011 taxes. ECF No. 7. For the following
reasons, the Court agrees with the United States.
Standard of Review
Plaintiffs are proceeding pro se, the Court
construes the Complaint liberally to ensure that potentially
meritorious claims survive challenge. See Hughes v.
Rowe, 449 U.S. 5, 9 (1980). However, the Court cannot
ignore a pro se plaintiff's clear failure to
allege facts setting forth a cognizable claim. See Weller
v. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 901 F.2d 387, 391 (4th Cir.
1990) (“The ‘special judicial solicitude'
with which a district court should view such pro se
complaints does not transform the court into an advocate.
Only those questions which are squarely presented to a court
may properly be addressed.”). A court, when reviewing
pro se complaints, must not abdicate its
“legitimate advisory role” to become an
“advocate seeking out the strongest arguments and most
successful strategies for a party.” Beaudett v.
City of Hampton, 775 F.2d 1274, 1278 (1985).
to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction challenge
a court's authority to hear a matter. See Davis v.
Thompson, 367 F.Supp.2d 792, 799 (D. Md. 2005). The
plaintiff bears the burden of establishing subject matter
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Lovern
v. Edwards, 190 F.3d 648, 654 (4th Cir. 1999). If
“a claim fails to allege facts upon which the court may
base jurisdiction, ” the court must dismiss the action
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Davis, 367
F.Supp.2d at 799. In determining whether jurisdiction exists,
“the court may look beyond the pleadings and the
jurisdictional allegations of the complaint and view whatever
evidence has been submitted on the issue.” Khoury
v. Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D. Md. 2003)
(quoting Capitol Leasing Co. v. FDIC, 999 F.2d 188,
191 (7th Cir. 1993)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
Where the defendant contends that the complaint “simply
fails to allege facts upon which subject matter jurisdiction
can be based, ” the Court construes the facts alleged
in the complaint as true and most favorably to the plaintiff.
Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982).
matters generally, 28 U.S.C. § 1346(a)(1) confers
original jurisdiction on federal district courts,
“concurrent with the United States Court of Federal
Claims, ” for “any internal-revenue tax alleged
to have been erroneously or illegally assessed or
collected.” However, a refund suit may not be filed
“until a claim for refund or credit has been duly
filed” with the IRS. 26 U.S.C. §
7422(a). For a refund claim to be duly filed, it
must comply with the timing provisions of § 6511(a) and
(b). United States v. Clintwood Elkhorn Min. Co.,
553 U.S. 1, 8 (2008); Webb v. United States, 66 F.3d
691, 693 (4th Cir. 1995).
6511(a) provides that where the taxpayer seeks “credit
or refund of an overpayment of any tax imposed, ” the
claim “shall be filed by the taxpayer within 3 years
from the time the return was filed.” Id. Here,
Plaintiffs mailed their joint tax return on April 16, 2015.
ECF No. 7-1 at 5. Importantly, the Code of Federal
Regulations provides that a properly executed individual tax
return shall also be construed as a claim for a refund when
the return discloses an overpayment. 26 C.F.R. §
301.6402-3(a)(5). Plaintiffs' tax return thus also
constituted a refund claim. As the United States
acknowledges, the simultaneous filing of Plaintiffs'
return and refund claim meets the timing requirements of
§ 6511(a). See ECF No. 7-1 at 5.
6511(b) limits the amount that a claimant can recover as
[i]f the claim was filed by the taxpayer during the 3-year
period prescribed in subsection (a), the amount of the credit
or refund shall not exceed the portion of the tax paid within
the period, immediately preceding the filing of the claim,
equal to 3 years plus the period of any extension of time
for filing the return.
26 U.S.C. § 6511(b)(2)(A) (emphasis added). For purposes
of § 6511, when taxes are deducted and withheld during
the calendar year, the taxes are deemed paid on April 15 of
the following year. 26 U.S.C. § 6513(b)(1); Rev. Ruling
2003-1 C.B. 814.
United States contends that this Court lacks jurisdiction
because Plaintiffs filed their refund claim more than three
years after paying the taxes in question. ECF No. 7-1 at 6.
Plaintiffs' 2011 taxes were deemed paid on April 15,
2012, and the return was not mailed until April 16,
2015. Id. Thus, the United States
contends that the taxes were paid one day outside the
look-back period provided under § 6511(b), barring
respond that the look-back period was augmented by an
“extension of time for filing the return.”
See § 6511(b)(2)(A). Plaintiffs more
specifically contend that because the initial due date for
filing the return, April 15, 2012, was a Sunday, and April
16, 2012, was a legal holiday, the return was in fact due on
April 17, 2012. Thus, say Plaintiffs, by virtue of that
extension, the correctly calculated look-back period is
between April 16, 2015 and April 15, 2012. ECF No. 11 at 5.
This enlarged ...