Categories
Uncategorized

Supreme Court Grants Cert in Bittner v U.S. On FBAR Nonwillful Penalty Per Form or Per Account Issue (6/21/22; 6/22/22)

The Supreme Court today granted certiorari in the Bittner case to address the issue of whether the FBAR nonwillful penalty is per form or per account.  See Order List, p. 2, here.  I covered the key points at this stage in a prior blog.  Solicitor General Acquiesces in Bittner Petition for Cert on Issue of FBAR Nonwillful Penalty Per Form or Per Account (Federal Tax Crimes Blog 5/19/22), here.  So I will defer further comment now.

The docket entries where the briefings and other documents as they are filed may be retrieved in the following web pages:

  • Supreme Court here.
  • Scotusblog here (Note, as of this posting the cert granted entry has not been posted but should be posted by the end of the day.

Added 6/22/22 at 1:40 pm: 

Based on some of my current diversions on the APA and Chevron
(see e.g., my blog
Reply to Professor Hickman’s Response to My PT Article
(Federal Tax Procedure Blog 6/17/22; 6/22/22),
here),
it occurs to me that we may use some of the constructs in that discussion here
to either clarify or further confuse.
  Using
that lingo:

1. What if the normal tools of statutory construction do not
resolve whether the statute applies the nonwillful penalty per form or per
account?
  Included in the normal tools of
statutory interpretation is what is often called
Skidmore
deference.
  (Actually Skidmore is
not deference at all because it requires that the court be persuaded by
consideration of the agency interpretation; some therefore call it Skidmore respect or even the respect due for any position asserted by a litigant in litigation.)

2. That would almost certainly mean that the statute is
ambiguous and that the interpretation might be subject to
Chevron
analysis if incorporated in a
Chevron entitled rule (usually a
regulation).
  But I don’t think there is
a Chevron entitled rule for this issue.

3. What then if the Supreme Court is in interpretive equipoise
– neither interpretation is the best interpretation?
  See Chevron and Equipoise In Statutory
Interpretation
(Federal Tax Procedure Blog 5/26/22), here;
and
Even More on Skidmore (Including Equipoise as to Interpretation)( Federal
Tax Procedure Blog 7/7/19),
here.  Should the Court just flip a coin when in equipoise or, more likely, have to affirm the Circuit Court because it could not conclude that the Circuit Court was wrong.  Of course, the advantage of a Supreme Court opinion in a systemic sense is not that the Supreme Court necessarily gets it right, but that it gets a uniform interpretation that all courts must apply.  So, a coin flip or equivalent (even if made mentally and not acknowledged in the opinion) might be OK.

If anyone has an answer to the conundrum, I would appreciate having it either by comment or separate email.

Source