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Petition filed late because online stamp retailer’s ‘postmark’ invalid, Tax Court rules

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Online postmark invalidThe Tax Court ruled Sept. 22 that a petition submitted to the court by a taxpayer was late, and that the taxpayer could not rely on the postmark generated on the mailing label by an online retailer.

In Tilden v. Commissioner, T.C. Memo 2015-188 (Sept. 22, 2015), the IRS sent the taxpayer a notice of deficiency on Jan. 21, 2015, allowing the taxpayer 90 days from that date to petition the Tax Court or agree to the adjustments. Ninety days after Jan. 21, 2015, was April 21, 2015. The taxpayer’s petition reached the Tax Court on April 29, 2015, therefore the taxpayer needed to satisfy the “mailbox” rule in Section 7502 to have filed the petition in a timely manner. The envelope containing the petition had a mailing label generated by “Stamps.com” with a “postmark” of April 21. The question before the Tax Court was whether this postmark met the requirements of Section 7502.

The Tax Court noted that although the envelope did not have a postmark of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), the records of the USPS showed that the envelope entered into the USPS mail system on April 23, 2015, which was two days after the expiration of the 90-day period. The court held that the day that the petition entered into the USPS system was controlling under the facts, and therefore the petition was not timely filed.

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Dave Auclair
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Shamik Trivedi
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