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Copyright (c) 1996 Board of Trustees of Southern Illinois University
Southern Illinois University Law Journal

ARTICLE: SUING THE IRS AND ITS EMPLOYEES FOR DAMAGES: DAVID AND GOLIATH

Spring, 1996

20 S. Ill. U. L. J. 507

Author

Ridgeley A. Scott *

Excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION

This article sets forth the circumstances when damage suits may be maintained against the government and its employees in connection with internal revenue matters. The first step in planning a lawsuit is to decide whether there is a legitimate claim. People do not like to be pursued by their creditors, especially the IRS. 1 However disagreeable it may be, the mere fact that a claim is being asserted does not constitute a tort. 2 Many actions have no merit because they advance unfounded constitutional arguments, 3 attack regulations and other rules, 4 seek a refund of tax, 5 and pursue other matters such as conflicting personalities. 6 These are not valid grounds for damage suits.

Attorneys may not be familiar with the special requirements for suits against the government or government employees. Hence, meritorious actions frequently are unsuccessful because attorneys fail to properly deal with the unusual position of the defendant. 7 A lawyer has a duty to tell his client if a proposed course of action has no chance of success. 8 The number of meritless pro se damage suits 9 suggests that many people receive improper advice, decide to sue against proper advice, or do not consult an attorney.

In this article, discussion begins with sovereign immunity; continues with suits under the Federal Tort Claims Act, 10 the Internal Revenue Code, 11 and against individual employees; and ends with the need for reform. The conclusion argues that the courts have been improperly restrictive in ...
 
 
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