MICHAEL PRESLEY, CYNTHIA PRESLEY, BMP FAMILY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, PRESLEY LAW AND ASSOCIATES, P.A., Plaintiffs - Appellants,
UNITED STATES, Defendant-Appellee.
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Florida D.C. Docket No. 9:16-cv-81735-RLR
WILSON and ROSENBAUM, Circuit Judges, and TITUS, [*] District Judge.
ROSENBAUM, CIRCUIT JUDGE
that the 1980 United States Men's Olympic Hockey Team had
the odds stacked against it would be an understatement. With
a roster of amateur players whose age averaged 22, the U.S.
team had been routed 10-3 by the Soviet team less than two
weeks before the Olympics began. And that was not surprising
since the Soviet team was filled with seasoned professionals,
had won the past four Olympic gold medals, and had not even
lost an Olympic game since 1968.Beating the Soviet team
seemed impossible. Yet on February 22, 1980, the U.S.
team-led by Coach Herb Brooks-did exactly that, scoring a 4-3
"Miracle" win. Our history contains many such stories
of triumphs over long odds. This, however, is not one of
lawyer, his law firm, and associated parties-urge creative
arguments to avoid their bank's compliance with Internal
Revenue Service ("IRS") summonses for their account
records. But forget about tough odds the U.S. hockey team
faced, Plaintiffs face-off with something even more
formidable: the Supreme Court's holdings long ago in
United States v. Miller, 425 U.S. 435 (1976), and
United States v. Powell, 379 U.S. 48 (1964). Those
cases completely foreclose Plaintiffs' arguments. For
this reason, neither Plaintiffs nor their law-firm clients
whose interests Plaintiffs attempt to invoke have a viable
Fourth Amendment objection to the IRS's collection of
Plaintiffs' bank records from Plaintiffs' bank. We
therefore affirm the district court's order denying the
quashing of the IRS's summonses.
2016, the IRS sent three summonses to Bank of America, N.A.,
(the "Bank") in the course of investigating the
2014 federal income-tax liabilities of each of Plaintiffs
Michael Presley, Cynthia Presley, BMP Family Limited
Partnership, and Presley Law and Associates, P.A.
("Presley Law"). The summonses sought records
"pertaining to any and all accounts over which [each
Plaintiff] has signature authority," including bank
statements, loan proceeds, deposit slips, records of
purchase, sources for all deposited items, and copies of all
have suggested, Plaintiff Michael Presley is an attorney,
while Presley Law is his law firm. Among the records the IRS
sought were the law firm's escrow and trust bank-account
records, which were held in the names of Presley Law and
Both accounts contained information about client finances.
The IRS notified Plaintiffs of these summonses, but it did
not inform Plaintiffs' clients because it was not
moved to quash. They objected only to the Bank's
production of records related to their escrow and trust
accounts, contending that these records revealed their
clients' financial information. The government moved to
dismiss, and the district court granted its motion. The
district court reasoned that the summonses complied with the
governing standard announced in Powell, 379 U.S. at
57-58, because the summonses were narrowly drawn and relevant
to the IRS's investigation. In addition, the district
court concluded that Plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge
the summonses as violations of their clients' privacy
because their clients lacked a reasonable expectation of
privacy in records held by the Bank.
not reverse an order enforcing an IRS summons unless it is
"clearly erroneous." United States v.
Morse, 532 F.3d 1130, 1131 (11th Cir. 2008) (per
curiam); United States v. Medlin, 986 F.2d 463, 466
(11th Cir. 1993).
whether the district court's order was clearly erroneous
requires us to first consider the general framework governing
the enforceability of IRS summonses. To ensure compliance
with the tax code, Congress designed a system that gives the
IRS "broad statutory authority to summon a taxpayer to
produce documents or give testimony relevant to determining
tax liability." United States v. Clarke, 134
S.Ct. 2361, 2364 (2014).
7602 of the Internal Revenue Code is the "centerpiece of
that congressional design." United States v. Arthur
Young & Co., 465 U.S. 805, 816, (1984). Under §
7602, the IRS may inquire into the correctness of a return by
"examin[ing] any books, papers, records, or other data .
. . ." 26 U.S.C. § 7602(a)(1) & (2). This
summons power is not limited to examining documents of the
taxpayer under investigation but also extends to allow the
IRS to obtain relevant information from a third party. 26
U.S.C. § 7602(a)(2). But where, as here, the IRS issues
a summons to a third-party recordkeeper to gather information
about a taxpayer, the IRS must notify the taxpayer of the
summons pursuant to 26 U.S.C. § 7609(a).
guard against potential abuses of this "broad"
power, the courts-and not the IRS-are authorized to enforce
this summons power. United States v. Bisceglia, 420
U.S. 141, 146 (1975) ("Substantial protection is
afforded by the provision that an Internal Revenue Service
summons can be enforced only by the courts."). In
United States v. Powell, 379 U.S. 48 (1964), the
Supreme Court set forth the analytical framework that governs
the courts' enforcement decisions.
for the government to establish a prima facie case for
enforcement, it must demonstrate that (1) the investigation
has a legitimate purpose, (2) the information summoned is
relevant to that purpose, (3) the IRS does not already
possess the documents sought, and (4) the IRS has followed
the procedural steps required by the tax code. Id.
at 57-58. If the government satisfies Powell, the
"burden shifts to the taxpayer 'to disprove one of
the four Powell criteria, or to demonstrate that
judicial enforcement should be denied on the ground that it
would be an 'abuse of the court's
process.''" United States v. Centennial
Builders, Inc., 747 F.2d 678, 680 (11th Cir. 1984)
(quoting United States v. Beacon Fed. Sav. &
Loan, 718 F.2d 49, 52 (2d Cir. 1983)). But
significantly, a court's review is narrowly
circumscribed. A court may inquire as to only whether the
"IRS issued a summons in good faith, and must eschew any
broader role of oversee[ing] the [IRS's] determinations
to investigate." Clarke, 134 S.Ct. at 2367
(alterations in original and internal quotation marks
omitted) (quoting Powell, 379 U.S. at 56)).
do not contend that the IRS failed to comply with
Powell. Instead, they assert that Powell
does not apply at all because the Fourth Amendment and the
Internal Revenue Code preclude its application in the
circumstances of this case. We conduct our analysis of
Plaintiffs' arguments in two parts. First, we address
whether Plaintiffs have standing to raise their clients'
Fourth Amendment claims. Second, we consider the merits of
argue that they have standing to guard their clients'
privacy rights under the Fourth Amendment. The government
disagrees. We need not decide this issue.
is personal. See, e.g., Rakas v. Illinois,
439 U.S. 128, 132 (1978); see also Crosby v. Paulk,
187 F.3d 1339, 1345 n.10 (11th Cir. 1999) ("[T]he
Crosbys are precluded from asserting Fourth Amendment rights
of third parties who were subject to searches . . . .");
Lenz v. Winburn, 51 F.3d 1540, 1549 (11th Cir. 1995)
("[C]ourts have held that a person does not have a
reasonable expectation of privacy in another's