Practitioners who file documents or make payments with the IRS that are required to be filed or paid by a certain date or period are familiar with section 7502(a). Simply stated, if the submission is properly addressed, it will be considered timely filed or timely paid if it bears a United States Postal Service postmark that falls on or before the prescribed date. The U.S. District Court for New Jersey recently dismissed a tax refund suit for lack of jurisdiction on the ground of untimeliness, even though it was properly addressed and postmarked before the period of limitations ran, sending a reminder to practitioners that timely mailed is not timely filed when it comes to refund suits in federal court. Patel v. United States, 124 AFTR 2d 2019-5329 (DC NJ).
The taxpayer in Patel sought a refund when filing his tax return for 2011. He filed the return on Oct. 8, 2015. On Dec. 17, 2015, the Internal Revenue Service IRS) denied his refund claim because he was outside the three year period of limitations for refund (see section 6511), beginning the two year period of limitations under section 6532(a)(1). Under that section, the period within which a civil refund suit is timely filed begins to run on the date the IRS notifies the taxpayer of the disallowance of the claim. Therefore, the taxpayer in Patel had to file his suit no later than Dec. 17, 2017 in order to be timely. The taxpayer offered proof that he mailed his complaint on Dec. 15, 2017. However the clerk of the court stamped the complaint “filed” on Dec. 20, 2017.
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