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Evasive or Insufficient Answers
You have 30 days from the service date of the Answer to file a motion concerning it. The service date is the date on the Certificate of Service that accompanies all formal court documents. I’ve seen and filed a number of motions seeking explanations of vague, contradictory, and evasive or insufficient answers to petition items. Every one of those motions has been denied without comment. At this point, I believe if you want to get straight answers to evasive petition answers you will have to do it in discovery, which is another step in the march that I discuss shortly. In my experience, the court just doesn’t seem interested in granting motions to compel the IRS to answer petitions candidly. As I haven’t had sufficient experience with the court’s handling of discovery motions yet I’m not sure the court will compel answers to certain types of questions in discovery either. But it’s the only chance we have to make our record of facts the Service doesn’t want to acknowledge. We make the motions, even though we are certain they will be denied, to be sure our record of issues is complete for an appeal. You may not raise issues on appeal that were not raised in the trial proceedings. The petition is your first discovery document. If you make fact or error statements the IRS doesn’t want to address, they will try to avoid admitting or denying them. The two most common evasions are “denies for lack of knowledge” and “denies on the ground that there are no material facts or errors alleged for which an answer is required under Rule 36(b).”
Lack of Knowledge
Rule 36(b) says that lack of knowledge is a legitimate reason for not answering, but that the parties should make a reasonable effort to find out what they don’t know. Depending on the kind of statement you made in the petition, it’s possible the respondent does not have enough knowledge about it to answer. For example, you state as fact, “I filed my return in good faith.” Since the statement speaks to your intent, which the respondent has no way of knowing, he can honestly say he doesn’t know. Or maybe you say, “I signed my return under penalty of perjury.” A denial for lack of knowledge would imply that respondent ...
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