UNITED STATES v. GALLETTI et al.
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT
No. 02-1389. Argued January 12, 2004--Decided March 23, 2004
"[T]he amount of any tax imposed [by the Internal Revenue Code] shall be assessed within three years after the return was filed." 26 U. S. C. §6501(a). If a tax is properly so assessed, the statute of limitations for collecting it is extended by 10 years from the assessment date. §6502(a). Respondents were general partners of a partnership (hereinafter Partnership) that failed to pay significant federal employment taxes from 1992 to 1995. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) timely assessed the Partnership, but the taxes were never paid. Respondents later filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, and the IRS then filed proof of claims against them for the Partnership's unpaid employment taxes. Respondents objected, arguing that the timely assessment of the Partnership did not extend the 3-year limitations period against the general partners, who had not been separately assessed within that period. The Bankruptcy Court and the District Court agreed and sustained respondents' objections. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that since respondents are "taxpayers" under §7701, which defines "taxpayer" to mean "any person subject to any internal revenue tax," they are also "taxpayers" under §§6203 and 6501. As such, the court held that the assessment against the Partnership extended the limitations period only with respect to the Partnership.
Held: The proper tax assessment against the Partnership suffices to extend the statute of limitations to collect the tax in a judicial proceeding from the general partners who are liable for the payment of the Partnership's debts. Pp. 4-9.