Target: Mary Hannah Leavitt, Philadelphia Commonwealth Judge
Goal: Don’t make man pay a $280,772 made-up tax bill
A man is being forced to pay a $280,772 tax bill that the officials have said is almost entirely made up. The man claims that he does not owe any taxes to the government at all and that the business they claim he received payments from does not exist. This is a worrying situation that has come about due to the opacity of U.S. tax regulations and the near impossibility of navigating tax appeals courts. Something must be done to simplify the tax code, but until that happens, we must ensure that people are not shaken down and robbed.
The man in question was originally given a tax bill for $200,000 by the city of Philadelphia. The city has admitted that this is something they call a “jeopardy assessment.” The way these assessments work is shocking to the point that they hardly seem legal. Basically, the city sends a citizen a bill for an outrageous amount in order to force the citizen to contact the city revenue office so that the true amount can be worked out.
The trouble began when the man in question refused to pay, claimed he didn’t receive the money the city wanted tax payments on, and challenged the bill in court. He began the trial without a lawyer and found it difficult to navigate the system. In court, he was ordered by the judge to pay for a transcript of the city Tax Review Board but failed to comply. For this reason, he is being forced to pay the amount that the city has admitted is completely spurious and made up, in addition to legal costs. The judge that passed down the decision has even admitted that the defendant may have some truth in his claims and said that her ruling was made reluctantly. Please sign below to demand that she retract the order immediately.
Dear Ms. Mary Hannah Leavitt,
Recently you issued an order for a man to pay a $280,772 tax bill that the city of Philadelphia has admitted was entirely made up. The process of “jeopardy assessments” is well documented as being a practice which uses made up numbers to scare taxpayers into going to a city office in order to get their actual tax bill straightened out. These false amounts are not just lies, but threats. When the department that issues tax bills admits that the payment amounts come out of thin air, forcing anyone to pay them is outrageous.
I understand that the defendant may have taken a few missteps while representing himself, but a less harsh penalty would be more fitting in this situation. The mere fact that you admit in your decision that the defendant has a valid claim should be enough to tell you that this is not the right course of action. I ask you now to reverse your decision and retract the court order that demanded payment from the defendant. Please do what you know is right.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons