Volpicelli v. United States

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Tax Law
  • Date Filed: 01-30-2015
  • Case #: 12-15029
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Watford for the Court; Circuit Judge Fletcher and District Judge Duffy
  • Full Text Opinion

The nine-month limitations period pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 6532(c) is not jurisdictional and may be equitably tolled.

Logan Volpicelli brought suit against the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) for wrongful levy of roughly $13,000. Believing that the money belonged to Volpicelli’s father, the IRS seized it and applied it to the father’s tax debts. Volpicelli was ten years old at the time of the seizure, and alleges that he did not learn of it until he had turned eighteen. The district court dismissed Volpicelli’s action without determining whether he had established grounds for equitable tolling, concluding that 26 U.S.C. § 6532(c)’s nine-month time limit may not be equitably tolled because more than eight years had passed between the levy and Volpicelli’s action. Volpicelli appealed, arguing that the deadline should be equitably tolled until he reached the age of majority. The Ninth Circuit held that § 6532(c)’s limitation period is not jurisdictional and is subject to equitable tolling. The panel looked to two 1995 cases, Supermail Cargo, Inc. v. United States and Capital Tracing, Inc. v. United States, where it held that § 6532(c) is subject to equitable tolling and reasoned that, unless those decisions were “clearly irreconcilable” with intervening higher authority, it was bound by its prior decisions. The panel also examined § 6532(c)’s placement in the Internal Revenue Code and, among other factors, the detail and technicality of the language of § 6532(c), and determined that § 6532(c)’s placement did not render it strictly jurisdictional, nor was it so highly detailed and technical as to prevent the reading of implicit exceptions. The panel left the question of whether Volpicelli had established grounds for equitable tolling to the district court to determine on remand. REVERSED AND REMANDED.

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