affirming the application of federal law to determine nominee relationship without reference to state's nominee doctrineSummary of this case from Fourth Investment LP v. United States
Argued and Submitted October 7, 2010.
Filed November 18, 2010.
Patricia McDonald Bowman, Trial, Bruce R. Ellisen, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, Thomas D. Coker, Esquire, USLA-Office of the U.S. Attorney, Los Angeles, CA, for Plaintiff-Appellee.
Derek L. Tabone, Esquire, Law Offices of Tabone, APC, Van Nuys, CA, for Defendants-Appellants.
Philip C. Griffin, AGCA-Office of the California Attorney General, Los Angeles, CA, for Defendant.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Valerie Baker Fairbank, District Judge, Presiding. D.C. No. 2:07-cv-06384-VBF-PLA10/1/7.
This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by 9th Cir. R. 36-3.
David Wheeler appeals the district court's grant of summary judgment reducing 1RS tax assessments to judgment and foreclosing tax liens on the house held by CHT Trust as Wheeler's nominee. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.
The 1RS introduced sufficient evidence to trigger the legal presumption of correctness afforded to tax assessments. See United States v. Fior D'ltalia, Inc., 536 U.S. 238, 242, 122 S.Ct. 2117, 153 L.Ed.2d 280 (2002). Wheeler never introduced evidence that clearly demonstrated the proper amount of taxes he owes, and failed to overcome this presumption. See United States v. Pierce, 609 F.2d 407, 408 (9th Cir. 1979) (per curiam). The district court thus correctly granted summary judgment to the government in reducing the 1RS tax assessments to judgment.
Wheeler also challenges the authority of various 1RS agents to make the assessments against Wheeler and the authority of other 1RS agents to authorize the Department of Justice to file this suit. We have described similar claims as "frivolous." Palmer v. 1RS, 116 F.3d 1309, 1311, 1314 (9th Cir. 1997). The district court correctly rejected them.
Finally, the district court was correct in concluding that the CHT Trust was Wheeler's nominee. Whether a certain level of control over land or goods as established by state law "constitutes `property' or `rights to property' is a matter of federal law." Drye v. United States, 528 U.S. 49, 58, 120 S.Ct. 474, 145 L.Ed.2d 466 (1999) (quoting United States v. Nat'l Bank of Commerce, 472 U.S. 713, 727, 105 S.Ct. 2919, 86 L.Ed.2d 565 (1985)). Courts in this circuit have generally agreed on a test for determining if property is held as a nominee. See, e.g., United States v. Bell, 27 F.Supp.2d 1191, 1195 (E.D.Cal. 1998); Towe Antique Ford Found, v. 1RS, 791 F.Supp. 1450, 1454 (D.Mont. 1992), ajfd, 999 F.2d 1387 (9th Cir. 1993). The district court correctly applied this test. The district court thus correctly granted the government's motion for summary judgment foreclosing the tax lien on, and ordering sale of, the house held by CHT Trust as Wheeler's nominee.