MLR

Taxpayer learns IRS takes postmark seriously

Categories:

Joseph Sanchez mailed a petition challenging a deficiency assessed against him by the Internal Revenue Service. Unfortunately for Sanchez, the IRS dismissed his petition because the agency did not receive it in a timely manner.

This situation involved a dispute over Sanchez’s tax year 2010 individual income tax return. The IRS sent Sanchez a notice of deficiency claiming that he owed approximately $13,000 of additional tax, penalties and interest.

The letter from the IRS clearly stated that Sanchez had 90 days from the date of the letter to file a petition with the U.S. Tax Court. The letter even stated the “last date to petition the tax court: March 3, 2014.”

On March 3, 2014, Sanchez had a third party deliver to the U.S. Postal Service a letter containing his petition to the IRS. This petition was Sanchez’s response to the deficiency assessed against him.

The third party even gave a written statement to the court, claiming she had delivered the letter containing the petition documents to the post office on March 3, 2014. She further stated that, instead of waiting in a long line, she had dropped the petition paperwork off at the post office without having a certified mail receipt stamped by a post office employee.

Therefore, the third party had no documentation showing that the post office had received the package on March 3, 2014.

The court actually received the petition documents on March 10, 2014. The envelope containing the petition documents had a U.S. Postal Service postmark date of March 4, 2014.

On the envelope was also a stamp printed on a computer by a third party using software from Stamps.com, as well as a certified mail sticker. The stamp showed the date of March 3, 2014.

The IRS has a section in its regulations that deals with this issue. The regulation section provides that “if the envelope has a postmark made by the U.S. Postal Service in addition to a postmark from another entity, the postmark made by the other entity is disregarded. In determining whether the envelope was mailed in a timely fashion, the date provided by the U.S. Postal Service is the date used.”

In this case, that date was March 4, 2014. For Sanchez to have made a timely response, he would have needed to have his envelope postmarked no later than March 3, 2014.

Therefore, the court had no choice but to dismiss the case on the grounds that the petition was not timely filed. A judgment in the amount of roughly $13,000 was entered on behalf of the IRS (Joseph Sanchez v. Commissioner, U.S. Tax Court, T.C. Memo 2014-223, Oct. 22, 2014).

This situation could have been avoided had the third party delivered the letter to the U.S. Postal Service in time to have it stamped as of March 3, 2014.