July 17, 2014
On June 19, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in United States v. Clarke. The question in this case is whether an unsupported allegation that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued a summons for an improper purpose entitles an opponent of the summons to an evidentiary hearing to question IRS officials about their reasons for issuing the summons.
Justice Kagan delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court, which held that an allegation of improper purpose does not entitle a taxpayer to examine IRS officials. Rather, the taxpayer may do so when he can point to “specific facts or circumstances plausibly raising an inference of bad faith." The contrary decision of the Eleventh Circuit was vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings.
To discuss the case, we have Kristin Gutting, an associate professor of law at the Charleston School of Law.