Shiner v. Turnoy

Turnoy sold insurance to Shiner’s in‐laws for decades. After Shiner, a Chicago lawyer, demanded that Turnoy split commissions on their new policies, Turnoy sent him a check for $149,000. Rejecting $149,000 as too little, Shiner sued for breach of contract, then brought another suit, alleging tax fraud, 26 U.S.C. 7434, by reporting to the IRS the $149,000 as income to Shiner; Shiner had not cashed the check. The judge ordered Turnoy to pay Shiner damages of $16,000 for fraud. The Seventh Circuit reversed, noting that the state court rejected Shiner’s breach of contract claim before the district court’s decision. Turnoy had placed a restrictive endorsement on the back of the check, stating that by cashing the check Shiner accepted $149,000 as full payment. U.S. Treasury regulations provide that a check received but not cashed counts as income for tax purposes only if “credited or set apart to a person without any substantial limitation or restriction as to the time or manner of payment or condition upon which payment is to be made,” but Shiner neither asked for a new check nor otherwise communicated rejection of the check. Shiner’s inaction gave Turnoy a solid basis for believing that Shiner had accepted the check, so Turnoy’s filing of Form 1099 was not “willfully … fraudulent.” View "Shiner v. Turnoy" on Justia Law