Judge Eric Vitaliano

Chesir did not file federal income tax returns for 1990 through 1994, 1996 and 1997. After nearly a decade pursuing compliance though administrative and judicial means, the government’s lawsuit sought reduction of Chesir’s unpaid taxes to a money judgment and enforcement of a statutory lien against his property. The court adopted a magistrate judge’s report recommending a $713,953 judgment—comprising $321,023 in unpaid taxes and $392,929 in penalties and interest—issued a foreclosure decree, and appointed a receiver to sell Chesir’s home. The court denied default judgment’s vacatur, rejecting Chesir’s claim that his long history of persistent procrastination led to his default and induced his failure to file tax returns. The record compelled the court to conclude Chesir’s default was willful, deliberate and consistent with his studied avoidance of tax compliance. Noting the lack of pretrial management or discovery, the court further determined the government would be prejudiced if default judgment against Chesir were vacated, as vacatur would force the government to scramble to recreate “ancient” tax data, including that from New York’s tax agency, which had no reason to audits completed in 1994 and 1995.