United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
Loretta C. Biggs, United States District Judge
United States of America (“Plaintiff” or the
“United States”) initiated this action on
February 15, 2018, to “reduce to judgment federal
income tax assessments . . . and civil penalties”
against Defendant Mark Lovely. (ECF No. 1 at 1.) Before the
Court are three motions filed by Defendant who proceeds
pro se in this matter: (i) two motions to dismiss,
(ECF Nos. 7, 20); and (ii) a motion for more definite
statement, (ECF No. 17). For the reasons set forth below,
each of Defendant's motions will be denied.
Complaint alleges that Defendant is a taxpayer who resides in
Kernersville, North Carolina against whom unpaid federal
income tax liabilities and civil penalties have been assessed
by a delegate of the Secretary of the Treasury. (ECF No. 1
¶¶ 4, 6.) According to the Complaint, Defendant
owes $90, 913 in unpaid federal income taxes and $81, 452 in
civil penalties for filing frivolous tax returns.
(Id. ¶¶ 6, 12.) Plaintiff seeks a judgment
its favor against Defendant for these unpaid assessments.
(Id. at 4-5.) In addition to Defendant's three
motions currently before the Court, Defendant has filed a
pleading captioned, in pertinent part, “Answer,
Jurisdictional Challenge, and Demand for Disclosure.”
(ECF No. 4.) This filing fails to directly respond to the
allegations in Plaintiff's Complaint; rather, it appears
to present a series of arguments regarding this Court's
jurisdiction to hear this matter. (See id.) Thus,
before addressing Defendant's motions currently before
the Court, the Court will first address the issue of subject
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
matter jurisdiction is a threshold issue that relates to the
court's power to hear a case and must be decided before a
determination on the merits of the case. Constantine v.
Rectors & Visitors of George Mason Univ., 411 F.3d
474, 479-80 (4th Cir. 2005). A motion challenging
jurisdiction is generally made pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and raises the question
of “whether [the plaintiff] has a right to be in the
district court at all and whether the court has the power to
hear and dispose of [the] claim.” Holloway v. Pagan
River Dockside Seafood, Inc., 669 F.3d 448, 452 (4th
Cir. 2012). The burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction
rests with the plaintiff. Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d
1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute.”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994). “The United States Code confers
subject matter jurisdiction on the federal district courts in
two ways-where there is federal question jurisdiction and
where there is diversity jurisdiction.” Holbrook v.
W.Va. Reg'l Jail & Corr. Facility Auth., No.
3:16-cv-03705, 2016 WL 7645588, at *6 (S.D. W.Va. Dec. 6,
2016) (citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332), report
and recommendation adopted, 2017 WL 55872 (S.D.
W.Va. Jan. 4, 2017). “[A] party seeking to adjudicate a
matter in federal court must allege and, when challenged,
must demonstrate the federal court's jurisdiction over
the matter.” Strawn v. AT & T Mobility
LLC, 530 F.3d 293, 296 (4th Cir. 2008).
Plaintiff cites four federal statutory provisions as a basis
for jurisdiction by this Court: (1) 28 U.S.C. § 1340;
(2) 28 U.S.C. § 1345; (3) 26 U.S.C. § 7401; and (4)
26 U.S.C. § 7402(a). (ECF No. 1 ¶ 1.) These
provisions provide, in relevant part, the following:
(1) “[D]istrict courts shall have original jurisdiction
of any civil action arising under any Act of Congress
providing for internal revenue, ” 28 U.S.C. §
(2) “[D]istrict courts shall have original jurisdiction
of all civil actions, suits or proceedings commenced by the
United States, ” id. § 1345;
(3) “No civil action for the collection or recovery of
taxes, or of any fine, penalty, or forfeiture, shall be
commenced unless the Secretary authorizes or sanctions the
proceedings and the Attorney General or his delegate directs
that the action be commenced, ” 26 U.S.C. § 7401;
(4) “[T]he district courts of the United States . . .
shall have such jurisdiction . . . to render such judgments
and decrees as may be necessary or appropriate for the
enforcement of the internal revenue laws, ”
id. § 7402(a).
an action brought by the United States requesting that this
Court reduce to judgment federal tax liabilities and civil
penalties assessed against Defendant. (See ECF No. 1
at 1.) The statutory provisions outlined above are clear,
pertain directly to the issues alleged in Plaintiff's
Complaint, and confer upon this Court the power to hear this
the Court finds that it has federal question subject matter
jurisdiction over this case. Defendant does not appear to
contest that 28 U.S.C. §§ 1340 and 1345 grant this
Court statutory authority to enter orders and decrees in
favor of the United States from a civil or criminal
proceeding regarding a debt specifically involving internal
revenue. (See ECF No. 4 at 2-3.) In addition,
although Defendant fails to address the application of 26
U.S.C. §§ 7401 and 7402(a) to this matter, this
Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case pursuant
to the plain text of these statutes. See United States v.
Carter, Civ. A. No. 3:15cv161, 2015 WL 9593652, at *5
(E.D. Va. Dec. 31, 2015) (“The remedy that the United
States seeks, entry of judgment in the amount of unpaid
assessments and penalties, is clearly ...