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Lawsuit Against IRS Fails Because of Sovereign Immunity


Posted on January 13, 2017

Sovereign immunity is a legal doctrine carried over from the time of Kings in which the King and his court were immune from claims by his subjects because “the King can do no wrong.”

Even though we do not have a King, the concept of sovereign immunity still applies in many instances to the United States government.  Specifically, sovereign immunity does not allow you to bring a lawsuit against the United States government unless the United States Congress enacts a law that specifically waives sovereign immunity to allow a specific claim against the United States.

Absent a law that specifically waives sovereign immunity, we as citizens cannot bring suit against the United States government.  In a recent case, plaintiff William Sawyers brought suit against the IRS for rejecting his Offer in Compromise under the IRS Fresh Start Program.

The government moved to dismiss Sawyers’ lawsuit under the doctrine of sovereign immunity.  The Court dismissed Sawyers’ lawsuit against the government, in part, because Sawyers’ claim fell outside of the law allowing some lawsuits against the United States.  As such, the suit was not permitted because of sovereign immunity.

Do you think that the doctrine of sovereign immunity where the King can do no wrong should apply today?

Are you attempting to negotiate an Offer in Compromise with the IRS? Don’t do it alone. Contact Chicago Tax Attorney Patrick T. Sheehan today! 


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