United States v. Bisceglia,
420 U.S. 141 (1975)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Bisceglia, 420 U.S. 141 (1975)

United States v. Bisceglia

No. 73-1245

Argued November 11-12, 1974

Decided February 19, 1975

420 U.S. 141


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) held to have authority under §§ 7601 and 7602 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 to issue a "John Doe" summons to a bank or other depository to discover the identity of a person who has had bank transactions suggesting the possibility of liability for unpaid taxes, in this instance, a summons to respondent bank officer during an investigation to identify the person or persons who deposited 400 deteriorated $100 bills with the bank within the space of a few weeks. Pp. 420 U. S. 148-151.

(a) That the summons was styled in a fictitious name is not a sufficient ground for denying enforcement. Pp. 420 U. S. 148-149.

(b) The language of § 7601 permitting the IRS to investigate and inquire after "all persons . . . who may be liable to pay any internal revenue tax . . ." and of § 7602 authorizing the summoning of "any person" for the taking of testimony and examination of books and witnesses that may be relevant for "ascertaining the correctness of any return, . . . determining the liability of any person . . . or collecting any such liability . . . " is inconsistent with an interpretation that would limit the issuance of summonses to investigations which have already focused upon a particular return, a particular named person, or a particular potential tax liability, and, moreover, such a reading of the summons power of the IRS ignores the agency's legitimate interest in large or unusual financial transactions, especially those involving cash. Pp. 420 U. S. 149-150.

486 F.2d 706, reversed and remanded.

BURGER, C.J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, WHITE, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BLACKMUN, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which POWELL, J., joined, post, p. 420 U. S. 151. STEWART, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, J., joined, post, p. 420 U. S. 152.

Page 420 U. S. 142

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