In Uncategorized on 02/04/2021 at 12:03

Suzzanne E. Ogboin, Docket No. 4100-20S, filed 2/4/21, gets embroiled in the too-common conflation of IRS with Tax Court, which bedevils the self-represented, especially when IRS’ well-beloved one-size-fits-all correspondence gambit is in play.

Suzzanne petitions the SNOD at Day 128. Of course, she says she sent IRS something timely.

“Respondent issued a notice of deficiency (notice) on October 21, 2019 to petitioner. The notice stated that petitioner had ‘the right to challenge * * * [respondent’s determination] by filing a petition with the United States Tax Court’ and that she ‘must file * * * [her] petition within 90 days from the date of this letter’. The notice also informed petitioner that ‘[t]he Court can’t consider your petition if the petition is filed late’.

“The notice provided that petitioner “could still file * * * [her] tax return” by sending it to respondent by January 21, 2020. However, the instructions stated (in bold): ‘Important: If you file a return with the IRS and you do not timely file a petition with the Tax Court, you will not be able to contest your liability or penalties with the Tax Court.‘” Order, at pp. 1-2.

Now we hip, battle-hardened practitioners know well that you file a petition immediately, whether or not you’re going to have the client send in a return, amended return, exchange billets doux with IRS, or anything else. You might omit the sixty Georges, and wait for Ch J Maurice B (“Mighty Mo”) Foley to tell you to ante up. But you need to protect the client while the matter gets sorted out. And 90 days wait for no one.

Suzzanne, obviously pro se, gets it wrong. But even Judge Colvin gets it wrong.

“Ninety days from October 21, 2019 was Sunday, January 19, 2020. When the final day falls on Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday the period to file is extended to the following Monday (which, in this case, was January 20, 2020). The notice stated that petitioner had until January 21, 2020. Because petitioner did not file her petition until well after January 20th and 21st of 2020, we need not consider the jurisdictional implications of the notice containing an erroneous date.” Order, at p. 2, footnote 2.

No, Judge, the “erroneous” date wasn’t erroneous. January 21, 2020, was the last date on which Suzzanne could file her tax return with IRS, not the last date on which she could file a petition with Tax Court.

But if Judge Colvin, who has 32 (count ’em, 32) years on the Tax Court Bench, following a distinguished career in government, is confused by this IRS schemozzle, what chance has Suzzanne E. Ogboin (tax qualifications and expertise not stated, but I doubt they’re anywhere close to Judge Colvin’s), or any self-represented nonprofessional, to sort this out?

The IRS one-size-fits-all correspondence gambit again falls short.

All y’all will remember Judge David Gustafson commenting to like effect, for which see my blogpost “Judge on a Tear,” 6/7/19.







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