Metro Detroit law firms’ privacy battle against the IRS heads to US Supreme Court

Lawyer Maurice Rose told Local 4 this is a case about IRS overreach and your right to privacy

A tax battle is going to the United States Supreme Court as a Metro Detroit law firm called it a fight over the right to privacy, and they’re taking on the IRS.

The U.S. Supreme Court only hears a small number of cases a year, just 47 in 2022, so getting a case heard is very difficult. But the Metro Detroit law firm and one of its customers got the justices’ attention.

The IRS can hunt down money it’s owed from taxpayers, but in this case, the IRS went and searched the law firm’s bank records over two years. Along with the wife of the man who owed the money.

Lawyer Maurice Rose told Local 4 this is a case about IRS overreach and your right to privacy.

“The IRS shouldn’t have unlimited ability to go on a fishing expedition among individual’s personal records,” said Rose.

Rose only knew the IRS had gone after his firm’s banking records when his banker mentioned it.

“There is no way of knowing how many times, although it’s not an uncommon practice, what we understand where the IRS would, in our opinion, overstep its bounds and try to go on a fishing expedition,” Rose said.

We’re talking about information that’s also privileged between a lawyer and a client. Rose sued the IRS back in 2019 and lost. He appealed and lost again at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Here’s what it said in the decision now appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“In pursuit of over $2 million of a taxpayer’s unpaid liabilities, the IRS issued administrative summonses to the banks of the taxpayer’s wife and lawyers, petitioners in this case. The IRS did not notify petitioners of the summonses, relying on relevant provisions of the internal revenue code, excluding summonses issued. In aid of the collection” of tax assessments from its notice provisions. Petitioners were not entitled to notice.”

Rose and his lawyers will argue this is a practice that needs to end immediately.

“Let them explain to a judge why it should be relevant and why it’s not privileged and why they should have a right to it to trump someone’s privacy rights,” Rose said.

They go before the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday (March 29). Local 4 reached out to the IRS asking them for their view, in this case, Monday (Feb. 13). They gave us the usual answer saying they don’t comment on pending litigation.

So, we’ll have to wait for that when the case gets before the justices there.

About the Authors:

Rod Meloni is an Emmy Award-winning Business Editor on Local 4 News and a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.