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United States v. Home Concrete & Supply, LLC

United States Supreme Court
566 U.S. ___ (2012)


The federal tax code ordinarily required the head of the Internal Revenue Service (Commissioner) to assess a tax deficiency against a taxpayer within three years of the tax return’s filing date. However, there was an exception that allowed deficiency assessments within six years if the taxpayer improperly omitted significant amounts from the taxpayer’s reported gross income. On its tax return, Home Concrete & Supply, LLC (Home Concrete) (plaintiff) underestimated the gain it realized on the sale of property by overestimating its basis in the property. The Commissioner assessed a deficiency against Home Concrete more than three years after Home Concrete filed its tax return. The Commissioner interpreted the six-year exception as applicable in Home Concrete's case, reasoning that the overstatement of a taxpayer's basis was equivalent to an omission of income. The United States Supreme Court had rejected a similar claim by the Commissioner's predecessor in Colony, Inc. v. Commissioner, 357 U.S. 28 (1958), but noted the six-year exception's text was not unambiguous. Home Concrete challenged the Commissioner's statutory interpretation and deficiency assessment, and a lower court ruled in Home Concrete's favor. The United States (Government) (defendant) sought review and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Breyer, J.)

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

Dissent (Kennedy, J.)

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