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Rivas v. Commissioner (T.C. Memo. 2020-124)

On August 25, 2020, the Tax Court issued a Memorandum Opinion in the case of Rivas v. Commissioner (T.C. Memo. 2020-124). The primary issue before the court in Rivas was whether the petitioner timely filed her petition.  Spoiler alert: she didn’t.

The IRS mailed a notice of deficiency by certified mail petitioner on May 21, 2019. The notice of deficiency was sent both to the petitioner’s last known address, which was the same address as the one that the petitioner provided as her address on the petition that she filed with the court. The petitioner does not challenge the receipt of the notice of deficiency, instead she argues that her attorney “dropped the petition in the United States mail drop box on the night of August 19, 2019.”

Given the time that the attorney allegedly deposited the petition in the drop box, the envelope bears a U.S. Postal Service postmark of August 20, 2019, which was one day after the filing deadline. Because the Tax Court follows a “timely mailed, timely filed” rule, the date of the postmark on the envelope controls. Absent a timely filed petition, the Tax Court lacks any jurisdiction to hear the matter. Guralnik v. Commissioner, 146 T.C. 230, 237 (2016); McCune v. Commissioner, 115 T.C. 114, 117-118 (2000).

Because IRC § 6213(a) requires that a petition be filed within 90 days after a notice of deficiency is mailed, and because the 90 day period is a jurisdictional requirement, failure to timely file (including failure to timely obtain the postmark) divests the Tax Court of any jurisdiction.

(T.C. Memo. 2020-124) Rivas v. Commissioner

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