May 5, 2023
Tax Court holds that deadline for electronic filing is according to time zone where it is located
In Nutt v. Commissioner (160 T.C. No. 10), the Tax Court (court) held that a petition electronically filed five minutes after the deadline in the time zone where the court was located was late, even though it was timely in the time zone where the petitioners were located. As a result, the court dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.
The Nutts received a notice of deficiency from the IRS stating that the last day to file a petition with the court was July 18, 2022. According to the court, "[t]he notice stated that the Nutts could 'get a petition form and the rules for filing from the Tax Court's website at www.ustaxcourt.gov, or by contacting the Office of the Clerk at … 400 Second Street, NW, Washington, DC 20217.'"
The Nutts electronically filed their petition from Alabama at 11:05 PM CST, the time zone where they were located. The court's filing system (DAWSON), however, shows that it received the petition at 12:05 AM EST, the time zone in Washington, D.C., where the court is located, on July 19, 2022.
The IRS filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction on the grounds that the petition was filed late.
The court said an electronically filed petition is considered filed when it is received by the Tax Court in Washington, D.C.
The court first explained that the timely mailing rule does not apply to electronically filed petitions. Under this rule (IRC Section 7502(a)), a document is considered to have been received when mailed (by US mail or a designated delivery service), even if it is received after it is due.
The court went on to say that the Tax Court rules state that for electronic filings, a "paper will be considered timely filed if it is electronically filed at or before 11:59 p.m., eastern time, on the last day of the applicable period for filing." The Tax Court's website has similar language and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure state that the last day of a period for electronic filing ends at midnight in the court's time zone.
The opinion serves as a reminder of how strictly the Tax Court views filing requirements. Taxpayers need to be aware of the rules and their applicability in their specific situations.
Published by NTD’s Tax Technical Knowledge Services group; Andrea Ben-Yosef, legal editor