Macdonald | Fernandez LLP

MACDONALD | FERNANDEZ LLP


221 Sansome Street
San Francisco, CA 94104
Telephone: (415) 362-0449
Facsimile: (415) 394-5544
914 Thirteenth Street
Modesto, CA 95354
Telephone: (209)549-7949
Facsimile: (209) 236-0172

Monday, June 15, 2015

Chapter 7 Trustee Must Notify Creditors and Obtain Court Approval Before Paying Taxes

In In re Cloobeck, 14 C.D.O.S. 5982, No. 23-15432 (9th Cir. June 12,  2015), the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee must notify creditors, set a hearing or opportunity for a hearing and obtain bankruptcy court approval as a condition of paying taxes incurred by the bankruptcy estate.  Specifically, a trustee must obtain court approval both as to the appropriate amount of taxes and authority to pay the taxes.

Bankruptcy Code Section 503(b)(1)(B) affords administrative priority to tax claims against the estate.  A creditor objected to the trustee's payment of estate taxes more than two years after apparently learning of the payment, arguing that Section 503(b) requires "notice and a hearing" before payment of administrative expenses.  

The trustee argued that this would be inconsistent with Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C.) Section 6012(b)(4), which provides that:  "Returns of an estate, a trust, or an estate of an individual under chapter 7 or 11 of [the Bankruptcy Code] shall be made by the fiduciary thereof."  Moreover, the trustee must ordinarily pay federal taxes on time.  28 U.S.C. § 960. Also, Section 503(b)(1)(D) excuses the government from filing a request for payment of an administrative expense, unlike other creditors.

The bankruptcy court rule in favor of the trustee.  On appeal, the district court affirmed and determined that the creditor's objection was untimely.  The creditor appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded for further proceedings.  Specifically, the court ruled that the trustee must notify creditors and set a hearing, or provide an opportunity for a hearing, and must also obtain court approval both as to the appropriate amount of taxes and authority to pay the taxes.  The court explained that a trustee must pay taxes in time, even if the IRS does not file a request, and must also provide notice and an opportunity for hearing.  Judge Wallace concurred in the result but write separately to voice concerns over the timeliness of the creditor's objection.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for clearing up the specifics on this one. It's often hard for us laymen to understand exactly what it means to us when we read legal changes. Having a quick summary like this is invaluable! This was a great article. http://www.vineandwilliams.com/about-us/

    ReplyDelete
  2. This type of work sounds somewhat similar to what my brother has been telling me about. Well, him being a bankruptcy lawyer, it's his huge project. He joined a team of lawyers to deal with a Chapter 7 filing of a famous company within the Houston area.

    ReplyDelete