The decedent died in 1990 and an estate tax return was timely filed by the extended due date with an election to pay the tax in installments via I.R.C. Sec. 6166. The IRS assessed the reported estate tax of $270,737 and the tentative Sec. 6166 deferred tax billing account was established. The estate paid $70,00 of estate tax, and later voluntarily paid another $115,000 in estate tax. In 1994, the IRS issued a deficiency notice asserting that additional estate tax of almost $700,000 was due based largely on valuation increases of inherited property. The estate voluntarily paid another $42,480 in estate tax, and filed a petition in Tax Court challenging the IRS assessment of additional tax. The estate distributed property to all beneficiaries except the one who inherited the property that had the valuation increases. In 1995, the executor filed an inventory with the probate court listing $443,916 of estate assets. In 1996, the estate's assets were distributed and an accounting was filed showing that the estate had zero assets. In 2001, the IRS assessed a deficiency of $247, 714 based on a Tax Court opinion issued in late 2000 in the matter. With interest, the deficiency was $518,451. In late 2001, the IRS sent a statement of tax due to the estate showing a tax due of $619,794 with the estate having 10 days to pay this amount. The estate did not respond and the IRS, in 2002, issued a notice and demand for payment of $839,897, stating that the I.R.C. Sec. 6166 installment agreement was in default due to non-payment and the account was in danger of being accelerated making the full account balance due immediately and noting that to avoid acceleration the amount due was due by Sept. 30, 2002. The estate did not respond. Meanwhile, the estate had never made installment payments on the estate tax under the I.R.C. Sec. 6166 election. In 2009, the executor filed a report with the probate court reporting zero assets in the estate and requesting that the estate be closed. In late 2012, the IRS filed notices of federal tax liens against the estate in jurisdictions where all real estate assets were located, and in 2013 sued to collect the unpaid tax liability. The trial court held that the I.R.C. Sec. 6166 election was terminated on the acceleration date specified in the notice and demand for payment for past-due amounts - Sept. 30, 2002 - which triggered the running of the 10-year statute of limitations for IRS to collect tax under I.R.C. Sec. 6502(a). The IRS had argued that the statute had been suspended under I.R.C. Sec. 6503. The court noted that I.R.C. Sec. 6166(g)(3) says that the 10-year limitations period begins when the estate fails to pay any principal or interest under the installment agreement, or the IRS serves a notice and demand for taxes due. On appeal, the court affirmed. The 2002 notice gave notice that the installment election had been terminated unless the estate made payment. The IRS filed suit outside the 10-year statute. The court noted that after the executor had distributed all of the estate assets, there were no assets under the control of the probate court and from that time on the suspension of the statute of limitations was lifted because normal IRS collection procedures would have then been available against the assets that had been distributed. But, IRS took no action. United States v. Godley, No. 3:13-cv-549-RJC-DCK, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132671 (W.D. N.C. Sept. 30, 2015).
- Ag Docket