Taxing Lessons Case Summaries

Case — Timely Filing

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TL Case Summ

THE QUESTION

Does a petition mailed from a foreign country need a US postmark to prove timely filing?

THE DISPUTE

Taxpayer Says: The petition was filed from Canada using registered mail before the due date and was timely.

Internal Revenue Service Says: The petition was not deposited in the mail in the United States on or before the due date, and it was not received until after the due date. The petition was not timely filed.

THE LAW

From Internal Revenue Code Section 7502(a): Provides that a petition that is timely mailed is, in certain circumstances, deemed to be timely filed. Specifically, Sec. 7502(a)(1) provides that “the date of the United States postmark stamped on the cover in which such * * * document * * * is mailed shall be deemed to be the date of delivery”.

From Internal Revenue Code Section 7502(b): Provides that section 7502 “shall apply in the case of postmarks not made by the United States Postal Service only if and to the extent provided by regulations”.

From Internal Revenue Procedure and Administration Regulations Section 301.7502-1(c)(1)(ii): A document is deposited in the mail in the United States when it is deposited with the domestic mail service of the US Postal Service.

From Section 752.13 of the U.S. Postal Service International Mail Manual, Issue 37, June 7, 2010: States with regard to foreign registered mail: “All mail registered by the country of origin must be handled in the domestic First-Class Mail mailstream from the exchange office to the office of delivery.” Thus, once the foreign registered mail arrives at the exchange office, such mail is considered to have been deposited with the domestic mail service of the US Postal Service for eventual delivery to its destination address.

THE CAUSE OF THE DISPUTE

If you’ve ever mailed your personal tax return on April 15, you’ve taken advantage of the timely mailing/timely filing rules of code section 7502. These rules establish when tax returns and other items you mail are considered to be filed on time, and state that timely mailing, as evidenced by a legible postmark, is generally deemed to be timely filing.

In this case, the taxpayer mailed a petition from Canada five days before the due date via Canada’s registered mail. According to the tracking records of the Canadian postal service and the US postal service, the petition arrived Los Angeles, CA the next day, and in Washington DC ten days later, which was after the “last day to file” date.

The taxpayer says that because the records show the petition was mailed prior to the due date, it must have entered the US postal service system at some point on or before the due date, making the filing timely.

The IRS says the petition had no US postmark, which means the date of filing cannot be established. In addition, since a US postmark was omitted, no other evidence can be used as proof of timely mailing or filing. The petition was received after the due date and was therefore filed late.

WHAT WOULD YOU DECIDE?

Make your selection, then see “The Court’s Decision” below for a full explanation

For the or for the

THE COURT’S DECISION

Download (PDF, 19KB)

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HL Carpenter, an experienced investor and a CPA, specializes in reader friendly articles on taxes and investing for individuals and small businesses, and publishes two newsletters: Taxing Lessons and Top Drawer Ink. Visit TaxingLessons.com and HLCarpenter.com.

This information should not be considered legal, investment or tax advice. Taxing Lessons and Top Drawer Ink Corp. do not provide legal, investment or tax advice. Always consult your legal, investment and/or tax advisor regarding your personal situation.

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Right answer!
Sorry, wrong answer :(
For the taxpayer. The petition in this case was mailed by registered mail from a foreign country well before the last day of the filing period; the petition entered the domestic mail service of the United States before such last day; and such date of entry is demonstrated by the official records of the U.S. Postal Service. The petition in this case was timely filed.
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