United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Frankfort
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
GREGORY F. VAN TATENHOVE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
John K. Steele considers himself a “sovereign citizen,
” and throughout this pending matter has contested the
Court's jurisdiction over him, citing incorrect, and
sometimes nonsensical, statements of law to support his
belief. This matter arises from Mr. Steele's failure to
pay federal income tax to the Government of the United States
of America. In their complaint, Plaintiff United States,
suing here on behalf of the Internal Revenue Service, makes
two predominant requests: (1) a judgment of Mr. Steele's
indebtedness to the United States of America, and (2) a tax
lien and foreclosure on Mr. Steele's property located in
Bagdad, Kentucky. [R. 1 at 4-5.] Today, the United States has
moved for Partial Summary Judgment as to Mr. Steele's
indebtedness, claiming that Mr. Steele is indebted to the
United States for unpaid federal income taxes, penalties, and
interest in the amount of $2, 861, 096.54 as of October 31,
2016, plus statutory additions that have accrued and will
continue to accrue according to law. [R. 41-1 at 4.] For the
following reasons, the United States' Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment is granted.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, summary judgment is
appropriate “if the movant shows that there is no
genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
56. “A genuine dispute exists on a material fact, and
thus summary judgment is improper, if the evidence shows
‘that a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party.'” Olinger v. Corp. of the
President of the Church, 521 F.Supp.2d 577, 582 (E.D.
Ky. 2007) (quoting Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986)). Stated otherwise, “[t]he
mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
Plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be
evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the
Plaintiff.” Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. at 252.
moving party has the initial burden of demonstrating the
basis for its motion and identifying those parts of the
record that establish the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Chao v. Hall Holding Co., Inc., 285
F.3d 415, 424 (6th Cir. 2002). The movant may satisfy its
burden by showing “that there is an absence of evidence
to support the non-moving party's case.”
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986).
Once the movant has satisfied this burden, the non-moving
party must go beyond the pleadings and come forward with
specific facts demonstrating the existence of a genuine issue
for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56; Hall Holding, 285 F.3d
at 424 (citing Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324). Moreover,
“the nonmoving party must do more than show there is
some metaphysical doubt as to the material fact. It must
present significant probative evidence in support of its
opposition to the motion for summary judgment.” Hall
Holding, 285 F.3d at 424 (internal citations omitted).
applying the summary judgment standard, the Court must review
the facts and draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party. Logan v. Denny's, Inc., 259
F.3d 558, 566 (6th Cir. 2001) (citing Liberty Lobby,
477 U.S. at 255). However, the Court is under no duty to
“search the entire record to establish that it is
bereft of a genuine issue of material fact.” In re
Morris, 260 F.3d 654, 655 (6th Cir. 2001). Rather,
“the nonmoving party has an affirmative duty to direct
the court's attention to those specific portions of the
record upon which it seeks to rely to create a genuine issue
of material fact.” Id.
“Certificate of Assessment” is a determination
from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) that a
taxpayer owes the Federal Government a sum of unpaid taxes.
United States v. Flor D'Italia, Inc., 536 U.S.
238, 242 (2002). Such an assessment is afforded “a
legal presumption of correctness” between the United
States and a taxpayer in court. Id. at 242-43
(citing United States v. Janis, 428 U.S. 433, 440
(1976); Palmer v. IRS, 116 F.3d 1309, 1312 (9th Cir.
1997); Psaty v. United States, 442 F.2d 1154, 1160
(3rd Cir. 1971); United States v. Lease, 346 F.2d
696, 700 (2nd Cir. 1965)); United States v. Walton,
909 F.2d 915, 918 (6th Cir. 1990). Following this
presumption, the taxpayer has the burden of proving, by a
preponderance of evidence, the Certificate of Assessment is
“arbitrary and excessive.” Walton, 915
F.2d at 918 (citing Helvering v. Taylor, 293 U.S.
507 (1935); Traficant v. Commissioner, 884 F.2d 258,
263 (6th Cir. 1989); Calderone v. United States, 799
F.2d 254, 258 (6th Cir. 1986)).
their motion, the United States provided Certificates of
Assessment reflecting the IRS Commissioner's assessments
of unpaid federal income taxes, penalties, and interests owed
by Mr. Steele to the United States for the tax years of 2000,
2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010. [R.
41-3.] The United States also filed a sworn statement of
Rebecca Pomatto, Revenue Officer with the IRS, stating Mr.
Steele's indebtedness to the United States totaled $2,
861, 906.54 as of October 31, 2016. [R. 41-4.]
response, Mr. Steele repeatedly disputes the accuracy of the
Certificates of Assessment, as well as any claims that Mr.
Steele owes the Government any money, by continually denying
his obligation to pay federal income taxes. [R. 47.] This is
simply incorrect. Title 26 U.S.C. § 1 “imposes an
income tax on the income of every individual who is a citizen
or resident of the United States and . . . on the income of
nonresident alien individuals.” 26 C.F.R. §
1.1-1(a)(1). Mr. Steele has not provided any information to
show he is not a United States citizen or resident. Thus,
regardless of how many times Mr. Steele refutes the law, Mr.
Steele has an obligation to pay federal income taxes under 26
U.S.C. § 1.
important, nowhere in Mr. Steele's response does he
attempt to prove the Certificates of Assessment are
“arbitrary and excessive, ” as required under
Walton. 915 F.2d at 918. Nor does Mr. Steele point
to any genuine issue of material fact; indeed Mr. Steele
remains focused on incoherent legal claims instead of
responding to the United States' exhibits and
calculations. Mr. Steele has provided no contrary evidence to
refute the United States' position, nor has he pointed to
any facts disputing the assertions of the United States as to
his indebtedness to the government. This Court has no duty to
search the record for any potential genuine issue of material
fact. In re Morris, 260 F.3d 654, 655
(6th Cir. 2001). To survive a summary judgment
motion, Mr. Steele had the affirmative duty to direct this
Court to specific portions in the record where Mr. Steele
believes is a genuine issue of material fact. Id.
Mr. Steele's only mention of the record is the United
States' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment, to which he
is responding and vehemently refuting. Mere opinion of the
falsity of an opposing party's statements is simply not
enough to provide a genuine issue of material fact. See
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475
U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
and the Court sufficiently advised, it is hereby
ORDERED that the Plaintiff United
States' Motion for Partial Summary Judgment against
Defendant Steele [R. 41] is GRANTED, and
this Court finds that Mr. Steele is indebted to the United
States for unpaid federal income taxes, penalties, and
interest in the amount of $2, 861, 096.54 as of October ...