Court Says IRS Technically Correct in Tax Case, But Still Acted Rude to Taxpayer

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Oct 13, 2016

While the court said that technically the IRS is not liable for a computer error that caused it to improperly seize a woman's money on three different occasions, and so cannot provide her with any legal remedy, it expressed its sympathies and said the IRS should have addressed her issue faster and given her an apology, according to AccountingWeb. The case involved a woman from Long Island, Leona Weiner, who had money erroneously seized by the IRS from her pension fund and bank accounts. This in turn led her to be denied credit, lose income from her accounts, suffer embarrassment at work and become ill, causing her to eventually sue the IRS for the pilfered funds, as well as for damages and an apology.

The court, the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York, said that the IRS is technically not liable for damages due to computer error. Therefore, the court said, it cannot provide any legal remedy for Weiner over what happened to her. While the IRS was technically correct, though, the court still shamed the service for what it said was its mishandling of what seemed like a reasonable request from a taxpayer, saying that the IRS should have been more courteous and responded to her communications faster. The courts also said that, despite the fact that Weiner is not entitled to a legal remedy, the IRS should have apologized for having erred in the first place, and provided her with documentation about the error that would have enabled her to undo at least some of the damage done. 

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