Tax Court In Brief | Pocock v. Commissioner | Equitable Innocent Spouse Relief Under 6015(F)

Published date14 June 2022
Subject MatterTax, Criminal Law, Income Tax, White Collar Crime, Anti-Corruption & Fraud
Law FirmFreeman Law
AuthorFreeman Law

The Tax Court in Brief - June 6th - June 10th, 2022

Freeman Law's "The Tax Court in Brief" covers every substantive Tax Court opinion, providing a weekly brief of its decisions in clear, concise prose.

For a link to our podcast covering the Tax Court in Brief, download here or check out other episodes of The Freeman Law Project.

Tax Litigation: The Week of June 6th, 2022, through June 10th, 2022

  • Musselwhite v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2022-57 | June 8, 2022 | Ashford, J.| Dkt. No 14380-16
  • Spencer v Commissioner T.C. Memo. 2022-8 | June 7, 2022 | Marshall, J.| Dkt. No 17106-19S
  • Chinweze v. Comm'r, T.C. Memo 2022-56 | June 7, 2022 | Urda, J. | Dkt. No. 29940-15L

Pocock v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo. 2022-55 | June 6, 2022 | Vasquez, J.| Dkt. No. 12558-17 Consolidated with Dkt. No. 23569-17L


Summary: Jan Pocock (Jan), a 1972 college graduate, married Douglas Pocock (Douglas), a Vietnam war veteran, in 1973. They had 2 children. Douglas had a history of aggressive behavior towards Jan and the children, especially about financial matters. In 1990, Jan and Douglas separated but they reconnected in 1992. In 1999, Jan, her ailing and elderly mother, and Douglas financed the purchase and closing costs for a home they could all live in. Title to the home was in all three of their names. Douglas maintained control over his and Jan's mail, such so that he installed an electric contraption at the house that rang whenever someone opened the mailbox, and he always retrieved the mail immediately upon delivery. Douglas alone prepared his and Jan's joint income tax returns. Jan did not review or sign the returns, and, considering her upbringing, she was accustomed to relying on Douglas to prepare the returns.

In 1995-2005, Douglas fraudulently claimed and through those years received near $1,000,000 in refunds by overstating his income and tax withholdings. Believing refund checks were from Douglas's money brokering activities, Jan endorsed some of the refund checks, and Douglas signed Jan's name to some of them. The refunds were the primary source of income for Douglas and Jan, and Jan knew Douglas paid for all of their expenses through the accounts in which the refund amounts were deposited. In 2005, Douglas's mother died, and he, as executor, misappropriated funds from her estate. Upon Jan and her mother's discovery of Douglas's actions, he was removed from the deed to the home that they jointly purchased, and he wrote Jan a check for $140,000. She deposited the check into a bank account from which she removed Douglas as joint owner.

For the tax years in issue, 2006-2008, Douglas continued his fraudulent scheme. But, the IRS did not issue a refund check for 2008. When that check did not materialize, Douglas contacted the IRS for help and an examination of the joint returns for all three years ensued, which resulted in credit reversals and about $500,000 of liabilities owed to the IRS. In October 2010, Jan learned of the situation. She asked Douglas about it and he responded by slamming her against a wall. In 2011, Douglas was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and later that year, Douglas and Jan divorced, although he was permitted to reside with her, albeit with payment of rent and in a separate part of the house. Also in 2011, an IRS criminal investigation ensued in 2011, which paused Jan and Douglas's pending collection due process proceeding.

In 2013, Jan filed Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, for tax years 2006-2008. In 2015, the U.S. attorney's office ultimately declined criminal prosecution, and also in that year, Jan's mother died. In 2016, the IRS denied her request for innocent spouse relief, concluding she had reason to know of Douglas's...

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