Thursday, December 6, 2012
The Internal Revenue Code has four discreet sections that allow late filing of claims and other documents under the circumstances described in those sections. The IRS has promulgated a procedural regulation that allows it to permit late elections under prescribed circumstances. Neither the Code sections nor the Regulation cover all of the circumstances in which taxpayers have a good excuse for missing a time frame. The current provisions have developed in an ad hoc manner. More ad hoc development of this area is possible as equitable tolling litigation seeks to open up time frames under the Code despite the efforts of the IRS to argue the tax code is exceptional.
Rather than continue down the path of ad hoc allowance of late claims and certain other late actions, this Article recommends the creation of a statute that would apply to all situations. The recommendation draws from the current provisions allowing late action and from principles developed in equitable tolling litigation. It proposes a transparent system under which the IRS would make a determination whether the late action qualified and that determination would be subject to judicial review under an abuse of discretion standard.