In a prior NTA Blog: Have You Recently Filed a Petition With the U.S. Tax Court?, I discussed how delays in processing U.S. Tax Court petitions were negatively impacting taxpayers. Today, I want to remind taxpayers about the importance of filing electronic petitions by the applicable filing date using Eastern Time (ET).
A timely filed petition is what gives the Tax Court jurisdiction to hear a taxpayer’s case. Pursuant to Tax Court Rule 22, all Tax Court petitions, regardless of format, are considered filed when received by the Tax Court in Washington, D.C., which is in the ET zone. For petitions filed by U.S. mail or a designated delivery service, the timely mailed, timely filed rule of IRC § 7502 applies so petitions filed by the deadline are considered filed on time even if they arrive at the Tax Court in Washington, D.C., after the due date. However, according to the Tax Court, the IRC § 7502 timely mailed, timely filed rule does not apply to electronically filed petitions so an electronically filed petition is considered filed when the Tax Court receives it. In this regard, earlier this year the Tax Court dismissed a petition (for lack of jurisdiction) because the taxpayers did not timely file their electronic petition by 11:59 p.m. (ET). In Nutt v. Commissioner, 160 T.C. No. 10 (May 2, 2023), the taxpayers received a statutory notice of deficiency with a July 18, 2022, deadline to file a petition with the court. The taxpayers lived in Alabama and filed their petition electronically on July 18, 2022, at 11:05 p.m. in their time zone, Central Time (CT). It was not officially received until 12:05 a.m. ET on July 19, 2022, in Washington, D.C., meaning the petition was not timely filed. Thus, the Tax Court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. Consequently, the taxpayers lost their right to a prepayment review of their tax liability.
The taxpayers appealed the Tax Court decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. The Eleventh Circuit has not decided the case, but in the event it reverses the Tax Court, I will post another blog.
File early to give yourself enough time to address any technology and time zone issues. Of course, that is sometimes easier said than done. To ensure compliance with Tax Court procedures, refer to the U.S. Tax Court’s website for electronic filing guidance, including the Petitioners’ Guide to Electronic Case Access and Filing and the DAWSON Self-Represented (Pro Se) Training Guide.
Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. See IRC § 7803(a)(3)(I). Qualifying taxpayers needing assistance with Tax Court matters may obtain free or low cost representation by contacting a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs are independent from the IRS and TAS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC website or IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List. This publication is also available online or by calling the IRS toll-free at 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).
The IRS office whose phone number appears at the top of a notice of deficiency can best address and access your tax information and help you get answers. However, you may be eligible for free help from TAS if you can’t resolve your tax problem with the IRS, or you believe an IRS procedure just isn’t working as it should. TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. Learn more about TAS and your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Note, however, that contacting TAS does not extend the time to file a petition with the Tax Court.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the National Taxpayer Advocate. The National Taxpayer Advocate presents an independent taxpayer perspective that does not necessarily reflect the position of the IRS, the Treasury Department, or the Office of Management and Budget.