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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 90102
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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A company libeled me

Customer Question

A company, incorporated in Alaska, falsely stated that I made x dollars of "wages" (statutorily defined in IRC Section 3104)  I in fact, made $0 in "wages" (as defined in the relevant law), I informed the company, and the company has refused to cease its misrepresentation to the IRS.  Therefore, the company has knowingly published a false statement about me--to my damage both monetarily (they have given away a large quantity of my money to a third party) and to my reputation.  Depending upon the laws available in Alaska, "conversion" or "civil theft" could be involved as well.

     The company's defense, which is an absolute defense in libel, is "truth" -- but they have to prove their defense, which means not that they have to prove that they paid me x dollars of money (they, in fact, did pay me x dollars of money), but that they paid me x dollars of "wages as defined...." (the reporting requirement for a W-2). I am not contesting that they wrongly asserted a payment of money -- I am contesting the characterization that funds paid to me were reportable "wages," subject to withholding and taxation (and painting me in the false light of a "taxpayer" or, worse, a "tax defier", both are terms statutorily defined).   Citations below are just FYI:


Internal Revenue Code, Section 7701(a)(14): "Taxpayer: The term ‘taxpayer’ means any person subject to any internal revenue tax."

"The revenue laws are a code or system in regulation of tax assessment and collection. They relate to taxpayers, and not to nontaxpayers. The latter are without their scope. No procedure is prescribed for nontaxpayers, and no attempt is made to annul any of their rights and remedies in due course of law. With them Congress does not assume to deal, and they are neither of the subject nor of the object of the revenue laws."
                            United States Court of Claims, Economy Plumbing and Heating v. United States, 470 F.2d 585, at 589 (1972)



  The evidence that I can submit to prove my own case (that the company's statement is false and damaged me) is my IRS Form 4852, and a sworn affidavit concerning all the elements that go into it:  I am not an "employee", they are not my "employer", etc., demand letters I have sent to the payer, and my paper trail showing that the IRS refused to give me my money (overpayments) in reliance on the company's false representations.

    The paralegal, who reviewed my tax returns prior to my filing them (to ensure that nothing on my return fit the Treasury Secretary's published list of "frivolous" items) who recommended that I seek out a libel attorney (not a tax attorney, because she has plenty with whom she works), mentioned the following when I told her that I expected a libel/defamation attorney to get hung up thinking 'tax attorney' when he hears me mention the IRS, instead of listening carefully and dealing with the libel part of the issue:


"You can anticipate the sticking point in the conversation.  [The payer] will tell you that "truth is an absolute defense to libel."  [The payer] will assume that when [the payer] reported that [the payer] paid you money, on the W-2, and you admit that [the payer] did pay you that amount of money, that this will be the end of the matter.  It will be a trick to explain to them [the payer and the libel attorney] that the W-2 does NOT report an amount of money paid to a worker, but the amount of "wages as defined in section 3121 and 3401" -- and that you did not receive "wages."  When they balk at this, you can remind them that such a defense must be proved by the Defendant.  They will have to prove that what they paid you was "wages," and not just money. That is where it might get interesting for the attorneys, especially if they are listening.  If they wave you off, act arrogant like they know the tax law better than you do, or in any way act like there isn't enough money here for them to take the case, smile, shake their hand, and tell them that you will continue to look for the right attorney, and that you definitely don't want to be represented by attorneys who don't listen to their clients.  (It will be a good learning opportunity for you, and you may have to go through a number of them before you hit on one with bigger ears than ego.)"

 

     So, I would like help finding a libel/defamation attorney, who would be willing to consider this case "pro hac vice" (Alaska).

thank you,

XXXXX XXXXXs
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I am sorry but if you are looking for an attorney from this site to represent you that is forbidden by the rules of this site.

Also I do not know how many attorneys you will entice to come from some other state to represent you and even if they do come file for admission to the court pro hac vice they would need an Alaska attorney to affiliate with on the case.

If you are trying to find representation, please use the same sites used by other attorneys, http://www.martindale.com or http://www.lexmundi.com and http://www.hg.org

I am sorry, but representation of anyone from this site or making any personal referrals is forbidden and can cause experts to be removed permanently from the site.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Okay, well given that this site can't recommend attorneys, the three web sources you provided for finding an attorney should be a good start. But , suppose I want to start this case pro se, what is the first step? Does it sound like a good basis for a case? The damages are that I am having to do without about $70,000 that the IRS is refusing/delaying to give to me because they are relying on false testimony. The remedy would be for the company to submit corrected W2s reporting my "wages" as they truly are, zero. The 2nd best remedy would be for the company to give me my $70k that they gave away to the IRS under an erroneous understanding. Do I simply write a complaint to the court with an order for the judge and wait for a response from the respondent and that initiates the process of litigation?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

If the company has provided information that they knew was false at the time they made the report of the information, then you would have a right to sue them for the damages you suffered as a result of their false statements.

To start a lawsuit, it is done by filing a "complaint" or "petition" and serving the defendant with a copy of that complaint and a summons and filing the complaint with the clerk of court's office.

The forms are not generally available online for this from the state (and we cannot provide you work of private attorneys because of copyright laws) and you would have to go to the court library to ask the librarians for the form books. Upon filing the complaint serving the defendant a copy with a summons and copy of the complaint, you file your proof of service with the court and your suit has been started.

If the Defendant does not respond in 20 calendar days after you have them personally served with a copy of the summons and complaint then you can file a motion for default judgment with the court. You have 120 days from filing of your complaint in court to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and summons.



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Customer: replied 1 year ago.

thank you for the excellent information. One last part: the company didn't think the information was false when they reported it, and still today, they refuse to accept that their information is false (primarily, because they have not invested the effort to see the difference between "money they paid me" and "wages as defined in Sections 3104 and 3121 of the IRC", requirements for filing a W2). They almost certainly have libeled in ignorance; however, they have refused my requests for correction, assuming that they acted correctly. Does their ignorance of their error in publishing a damaging falsehood against me in any way diminish my case? And furthermore, if I were to end up losing, am I at risk to owe legal fees to a bunch of high-priced corporate attorneys who will be defending the 30,000+ worker corporation against which I will be filing the complaint? Thank you very much.


 


Brian


 

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for responding.

In order for you to win any case for libel/slander/defamation, you bear the burden of proving they knew the information was false. Ignorance is not a basis for libel I am afraid under the law, you have to prove actual willful and malicious intent and if they believe they have reported it correctly, then you would have to prove they knew otherwise. You would have to attack this by going after the IRS to tax court and proving that the money was incorrectly claimed by the employer through the employer's ignorance and prove your case in there I am afraid.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 90102
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
Law Educator, Esq. and 8 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

If I can establish willfull ignorance on the payer's part by the paper trail of demand letters I have given them, should I be covered? Nolo only lists two essential elements in libel cases under defamation: (1) defendant published defamatory statement and (2) other people were exposed to it. It would seem to me that the burden of proving their statements were true would rest on the defendent, who may have 'recklessly' published a defamatory statement and exposed it to others? Also, the payer was never my "employer", per the relevant statutory definitions. You've given me a great start. I am ready to rate you excellent. I look foward to coming back to this site for future questions. Have a great afternoon!

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your follow up.

Willful ignorance is not defamation. Nolo is giving you the short version of the elements. The act of defamation/libel requires you to prove that at the time they made the false statement it was false, which you cannot do here based on your statement and they still argue that they have properly reported. So you have to prove that they did not properly report and knew they did not properly report to succeed in your claim.

The Alaska Court has held that a case for libel may be sustained only upon clear and convincing proof that the defamatory falsehood was published with knowledge that it was false, it is the knowledge (which is same as intent and willfulness) that you say you do not have because they still believe they are correct.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Paul M.,

You might be interested to know that if the IRS tries to garnish your earnings, they can only do it if you actually work for the federal government and receive 'wages' or 'income' as pay for your work. They very misleadingly leave this statutory requirement out of the Form 688-W and partial quotation from relevant law in the notification that they send to private-sector companies in their theft attempts.

For more information, see what a couple of US Congressmen have had to say about this at the bottom of this page: http://www.losthorizons.com/comment/archives/ASorryButInstructiveLittleSubterfuge.htm


Brian

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the information, but I am afraid that the US courts do not see this the same way as the Lost Horizons site does nor do they see it the same way as anti-tax / anti-IRS people and we can only tell you with the courts say and we will not pass on information from these same sites who have caused people like Wesley Snipes, most notably, to end up in prison for tax evasion.

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