Paul L. Caron

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Snow Day Excuses Late Tax Court Petition Filing

Snow DayAs the West Coast bakes in record heat:  Guralnik v. Commissioner, 146 T.C. No. 15 (June 2, 2016):

On February 13, 2015, P sent his petition to this Court via Federal Express First Overnight service, which was not then a “designated delivery service” under I.R.C. sec. 7502(f)(2). P’s petition was required to be filed “within 30 days of a determination under this section.” I.R.C. sec. 6330(d)(1).

On the last date for timely filing of the petition, Tuesday, February 17, 2015, all Federal Government offices in the District of Columbia, including the Tax Court, were officially closed on account of Winter Storm Octavia. For that reason, P’s petition could not be delivered to the Court on that day. P’s petition was delivered to the Court and filed on Wednesday, February 18, 2015, when the Court reopened for business.

Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a)(3)(A) provides that, “if the clerk’s office is inaccessible * * * on the last day for filing * * *, then the time for filing is extended to the first accessible day that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.” Tax Court Rule 25(a), dealing with computation of time, does not address how time shall be computed when the Clerk’s Office is inaccessible. Tax Court Rule 1(b), however, provides: “Where in any instance there is no applicable rule of procedure, the Court or the Judge before whom the matter is pending may prescribe the procedure, giving particular weight to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure to the extent that they are suitably adaptable to govern the matter at hand.”

  1. Held: The 30-day filing period prescribed by I.R.C. sec. 6330(d)(1) is jurisdictional and “equitable tolling” does not apply.
  2. Held, further, P may not avail himself of the “timely mailed, timely filed” rule of I.R.C. sec. 7502(f) because Federal Express First Overnight service was not “designated by the Secretary” as an approved private delivery service as of the date on which P’s petition was filed.
  3. Held, further, in the absence of a Tax Court Rule prescribing the procedure when the Clerk’s Office is inaccessible, the principles of Fed. R. Civ. P. 6(a)(3) are “suitably adaptable to govern the matter at hand.” Because P’s petition was filed on February 18, 2015, the first accessible day that was not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, it was timely filed and the Court has jurisdiction to hear this case.

For my daughter's perspective on snow days, see here.

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This is a perfect example that it's not about the law, but about people and relationships. If you are likeable, have integrity, filled with good humor and apologize, nobody is going to bang you. Admit a mistake.... It's really not about the law in a complex, bureaucratic system.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jun 5, 2016 3:41:00 PM