from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 1:15-cv-20884-UU
ED CARNES, Chief Judge, TJOFLAT, MARCUS, WILSON, WILLIAM
PRYOR, MARTIN, JORDAN, ROSENBAUM, JULIE CARNES, NEWSOM, and
HULL, Circuit Judges.
JORDAN, Circuit Judge:
that an affidavit which satisfies Rule 56 of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure may create an issue of material fact
and preclude summary judgment even if it is self-serving and
uncorroborated. And because this principle applies in all
civil cases, including those in the realm of tax law, we
overrule that portion of Mays v. United States, 763
F.2d 1295, 1297 (11th Cir. 1985), which is (or may be
interpreted to be) to the contrary.
case concerns IRS assessments, so we begin with some basic
tax concepts. An assessment "amounts to an IRS
determination that a taxpayer owes the [f]ederal [g]overnment
a certain amount of unpaid taxes, " and is
"entitled to a legal presumption of correctness-a
presumption that can help the [g]overnment prove its case
against a taxpayer in court." United States v. Fior
D'Italia, Inc., 536 U.S. 238, 242 (2002). "In
reducing an assessment to judgment, the [g]overnment must
first prove that the assessment was properly made. . . . [If
it does so, ] the taxpayer must then prove that the
assessment is erroneous in order to prevail." United
States v. White, 466 F.3d 1241, 1248 (11th Cir. 2006).
As far as we can tell, there are no reported federal cases
addressing what evidence a taxpayer needs to present to show
that an IRS assessment has been paid or satisfied.
2015, the government sued Estelle Stein for outstanding tax
assessments, late penalties, and interest owed for tax years
1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002. See 26 U.S.C.
§ 7402. Its complaint alleged that Ms. Stein owed
approximately $220, 000 plus fees and statutory additions.
moved for summary judgment, the government sought to
demonstrate that Ms. Stein had outstanding tax assessments by
submitting copies of her federal tax returns, transcripts of
her accounts for the tax years in question, and an affidavit
from an IRS officer. The government acknowledged that Ms.
Stein had paid the taxes due for 1996, 1999, and 2000 (as
well as some additional small amounts), but claimed she had
not satisfied the accrued penalties and interest for those
years. As for 2001 and 2002, the government asserted that Ms.
Stein had not paid any taxes, penalties, or interest. The
government did not depose Ms. Stein.
response to the government's summary judgment motion, Ms.
Stein submitted an affidavit of her own stating that,
"to the best of [her] recollection, " she had paid
the taxes and penalties owed for the years in question. Her
affidavit specified that she had retained an accounting firm
to file the tax returns after the death of her husband, who
had been solely responsible for filing the couple's tax
returns and paying their taxes; that she recalled paying the
taxes due, including penalties, for each of those tax
returns; that she no longer had bank statements to establish
her payments to the IRS; that she could not obtain statements
from her bank to prove her payments; and that the IRS had
acknowledged misapplying her tax payment for 1996 to tax year
1979. The relevant paragraphs of Ms. Stein's affidavit
stated as follows:
8. For 1996, this tax return was filed on November 15, 2004.
The IRS had no record of receiving any payment and is
claiming the full amount of the tax is due, along with
interest and penalties.
* * *
10. For the year 1999, I filed the return as surviving spouse
on February 11, 2005. The return showed an amount due of $33,
612. I paid $35, 226, which included the late penalty. The
IRS has a record of that payment.
11. For the year 2000, I filed my return as surviving spouse
on January 11, 2005. The amount due on the return was $4,
127. I paid $4, 349.00, which amount included the late
penalty. The IRS ...