Summons Enforcement Proceedings


The IRS has broad power to summons a taxpayer or a third-party to appear and testify in court, to produce records such as books and papers, or both. Although its power is broad, the IRS must, nevertheless, have a legitimate purpose for issuing the summons. This means the summons must be issued to obtain relevant or material evidence, to ascertain the correctness of any tax return, to make a tax return where none has been made, to determine the tax liability of transferee, or to collect on a tax liability. The IRS is required to serve an attested copy of the summons, and the time and the place for appearance must be reasonable.

A taxpayer can contest a summons if he has reasonable grounds for protesting it. Generally, the taxpayer can contest a summons on grounds that the items the IRS seeks are not relevant to any legitimate purpose, that the IRS already has in its possession the information sought by the summons, that the summons was issued in bad faith (such as for purposes of harassment and intimidation), or that enforcement of the summons would constitute an unnecessary examination and an abuse of process.

If a summonsed party has a good faith dispute as to whether he or she should comply with the summons, the IRS must obtain a court order for enforcement. Such summons enforcement actions are brought in the U.S. district courts.

At Thorn Law Group, our litigation attorneys have extensive experience representing individual and corporate taxpayers in responding to summonses. We have particular experience representing taxpayers in summons contests and defending taxpayers in summons enforcement actions.

If you have been issued an IRS summons and need advice on how to proceed, contact Kevin E. Thorn today at 202-349-4033.





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