IRS Summonses: No Reasonable Basis Required

September 17, 2020  |  New York Law Journal

The Internal Revenue Service has broad statutory authority to examine “any books, papers, records, or other data which may be relevant or material to [an] inquiry” and, as the Supreme Court has noted, “can investigate merely on suspicion that the law is being violated, or even just because it wants assurance that it is not.” The IRS exercises its authority by issuing summonses in the course of administrative investigations of taxpayers’ civil or criminal liability. In our latest article, we discuss Byers v. United States, a recent decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that highlights the differences between the low threshold that courts apply in deciding motions to quash summonses addressed to third parties and the more rigorous standard applied in deciding whether to authorize the issuance of John Doe summonses through which the IRS obtains data on a class of otherwise unidentified persons. While the taxpayer in Byers was ultimately unsuccessful in quashing the summonses at issue, the case is a good reminder of the importance of counsel thinking creatively about potential objections that can be asserted on behalf of their clients. I hope you find this article of interest. Stay healthy and safe!

IRS Summonses: No Reasonable Basis Required (pdf | 298.24 KB)