Gary and Connie Meissner filed a pro se complaint in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims seeking a refund of $67,931 of alleged overpayments on their 2014 and 2015 tax returns and interest.  The Government moved to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

On their 2014 and 2015 joint tax returns, the Meissners reported no income, although their W-2 forms showed earnings of $132,907 in 2014 and $216,410 in 2015.  In response to the IRS’s request for additional information about those amounts, the Meissners contended that their incomes were not subject to federal taxation.

The Government’s motion to dismiss argued that the Meissners had not exhausted administrative remedies before bringing their claims. The Internal Revenue Code requires that plaintiffs in the CFC who seek a tax refund first file their claim with the IRS.  The Government agreed that the Meissners had filed 2014 and 2015 tax returns, but argued that by reporting zero dollars of income, the Meissners did not provide the IRS with sufficient information to pursue a refund claim.

The Court agreed with the Government and dismissed the Meissners’ claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.  The Court explained that the Meissners provided insufficient data and did not attempt to honestly and reasonably comply with the federal tax law, stating:

In the plaintiffs’ case presently before this court, plaintiffs entered zero for income on their 2014 and 2015 tax year returns filed with the IRS.  The income reported by plaintiffs on their tax returns was contradicted by the income reported to the IRS by their employers and retirement account manager.  Furthermore, plaintiffs failed to provide additional information when requested to do so by the IRS, and in effect, concealed their true earnings from the IRS. . . . This court finds that plaintiffs’ behavior failed to meet the “honest and reasonable” efforts prong of the test set forth in Diamond v. United States, 107 Fed. Cl. at 705, and other cases cited above.

Read Judge Horn’s full decision here.